Protect Your Idea

Finding the Intellectual Property Protection That’s Right for You

Wake Forest Innovations provides expertise to help you create a customize strategy to protect your intellectual property.

What is the Purpose of Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property rights are a vehicle for developing ideas into usable and licensable products that move into the marketplace. There are five basic intellectual property pathways to consider based on the type of product your idea would become: copyright, trademark, trade secret, right of publicity and the patent.

In academic medicine, patents are one of the most common forms of intellectual property protection because they can cover most health care innovations, including medical devices, systems, therapeutics and other compositions of matter and processes.

Is Intellectual Property Protection Right for You?

If you are contemplating developing an idea into a health care product, Wake Forest Innovations is your resource for initiating the protection process. Here are three questions we can help you work through when deciding to pursue intellectual property protection:

  • Is anyone else working in this field? When considering intellectual property protection, take a close look at the work already being done in your field. A common reason intellectual property rights are rejected during the application process is that they are too similar to intellectual property already in existence—we can help you see what other work is being done in the same area. Protecting your work early combats the risk that someone else claims ownership before you and limits your ability to market products resulting from your idea or research. Our experts can help you determine if your research or idea has potential to be protected.
  • Do you want to license your invention? If your goal is to commercialize your work and partner with industry to develop a product or process, establishing intellectual property protection can add value in the eyes of potential partners. The benefit of intellectual property—namely patents—is the guarantee of market exclusivity, which is a major incentive for companies interested in licensing novel health care technologies.
  • Do you plan to publish your research? Though publication is essential for faculty researchers, putting information about your idea or invention out into the public before first seeking protection can restrict the rights you have to your own intellectual property. Look into protecting your ideas early before you publish in a journal, present at a conference or even apply for grant funding.

How Does Protection Work?

Protection is a key benchmark on what we call the Path to Innovation—a five step journey to developing novel health care technologies. Our goal is not to churn out patents that sit on a shelf, but to use intellectual property protection as a vehicle that increases the potential commercial value of the invention being developed.

Wake Forest Innovations handles the patenting process, but here is more information to help you understand the journey:

Full Disclosure

The first step in the patent process is filling out our Invention Disclosure form, which provides thorough detail about your idea or product: research, data, designs, etc. Having all the information available about what is being protected helps ensure that the protection is complete.

Patent Attorneys

Wake Forest Innovations will initiate a relationship with the right patent attorney for your idea. It’s important to identify a patent attorney who is experienced in the field that your idea is in, and we work with a variety of experienced attorneys.

Draft Application

After initiating a relationship, the patent attorney will take all the disclosed information that you provide and prepare a draft application. After it’s complete, you will review the application and make sure it’s accurate and complete.

Provisional Patent Filing

The initial filing will be for a provisional patent, in most cases. That document, which is submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, provides time for you to develop and research your idea for a full year until a non-provisional patent can be filed. The non-provisional patent provides protection for your product.

Patent Prosecution

When the decision to file a non-provisional patent is made, we will help you negotiate any exchanges with the examiner who decides if the health care technology deserves a full patent.

Full Patent Awarded

At the end of patent prosecution, a full patent will be awarded. The time it takes for a patent to be issued often depends on the patent’s scope and the area of research.

Have an Idea to Protect?

If you are faculty or staff of Wake Forest Baptist or Wake Forest University and have an idea for a medical technology and would like to explore protection options, send us a note in the form below describing your invention. A member of our team will reach out to start a conversation about your idea.
  • Classify Your Idea
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Intellectual Property Protection for Students

The classroom breeds innovative ideas. Graduate students at Wake Forest University and Wake Forest School of Medicine are invited to work with us on the development and protection of an idea or invention.

Keep in mind that, when conducting research under a supervisor or principal investigator, there can be limitations surrounding intellectual property claims. Keep your advisor well informed of your intentions to pursue protection and licensing opportunities.