Q. I am an academic researcher. How can IS help me?

IS frequently works with academic research staff, usually through an agreement with their employers. In these cases we help to define protectable IP (often as patent applications), potential commercial value and technology development goals. Apart from the obvious financial benefits that this can bring to the employer and usually the researcher (through employment-related benefits), patents are often listed as publications, and considered to be evidence of the Impact of research on society. Technology development programmes (as part of commercialisation) are often supported by industry partners, and can lead to additional grant funding opportunities.

Q.  If my research is protected by patents, will that stop me and my academic colleagues from exploring it in further detail, and discussing it with each other and in public?

The patenting process often requires that your discoveries or inventions (IP) are not disclosed until a patent specification has been drafted and a filing has been made. In some circumstances the IP should remain secret until the patent is published (usually 18 months after filing). With these caveats, you should be able to publish and discuss your IP in public, or you may wish to disclose your IP under the protection of a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. IS provides expert guidance on the risks of disclosing of IP and can advise you on the use of agreements to preserve confidentiality.

Q. I want my research to benefit society – will protecting it with patents prevent it being available to those who need it?

Patents are tools used by IP owners to control how their IP is used and exploited. IS usually works with IP owners who wish to generate economic benefits; however, we also work with individuals and organisations that use their patents to prevent others from exploiting their IP inappropriately. Patents can also help to ensure that IP is developed into useful products or services; this is a costly process and very few industry partners will risk spending the necessary money on development unless the IP is protected through patents or by other means.

Q. My organisation has patent portfolio that costs a lot of money but generates little income. How can IS help me?

The critical thing is to determine the value of the patent portfolio in both financial and strategic terms for your organisation. IS can work with you and your organisation to independently assess the potential of the portfolio to make financial returns, in terms of cost saving through streamlining your portfolio and in licensing the technology to the marketplace to generate income. Additionally, IS can advise on the most cost effective ways in which to actively manage the portfolio going forward, often by developing policies and practices to ensure that value of patenting and other forms of IP protection is fully realised.

Q. I am an investor, interested in technology, but I have no expertise in this area. How can IS help me?

IS provides technology advice to a number of investors. IS can rapidly assess the market potential of a technology, determine its state of development and thus how far from the market it is, and determine the underlying strength of the IP. Through this work, IS can provide you with an informed opinion on the technical and commercial feasibility of the technologies or products underpinning a possible investment.

Q. My technology company is seeking commercial partners. How can IS help?

IS is experienced in identifying and engaging partners for technology and product development. Having developed a thorough understanding of your product or technology, including its limitations and benefits, IS will look to position this within the context of the market and engage key industry users or customers for the technology or product. Once a shortlist of industry players is drawn up, IS will directly engage with them to introduce the technology or product to them, gain any useful feedback and look to move towards a relationship with industry partners. This can be done anonymously in most circumstances. IS has experience of achievement is this business development activity for it’s clients.