Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

Poll Results Are In! Can the Patenting Decision Be Made Faster?

Having obtained some interesting information in our social media survey last month, Fuentek has started conducting online polls. And the results for our first poll are in! The question was:

How long does it take from the time you receive an invention disclosure until you decide whether to pursue patent protection?

As you can see in the pie chart, 40% of respondents take more than 4 months to make the decision, plus another 20% take between 2 and 4 months. This strikes me as being on the “too-long” end of the spectrum.
This time frame is likely driven by a “people” factor or a “process” factor. Or both! The good news is, both of these factors have fairly easy solutions.

People: Maybe the technology managers who are triaging the incoming invention disclosures are too busy with other activities, such as negotiating deals. (This is a good problem to have!)

The solution: Have someone other than tech managers conduct the research and let the tech manager focus on making the decision and prioritizing the portfolio.

Process: Maybe the method that the technology transfer offices (TTOs) are using to evaluate new innovations is time-consuming. This problem is exacerbated if researchers are reporting a lot of innovations. (Not necessarily a bad problem to have, especially if you have trained your innovators on the ins and outs of tech transfer.)

The solution: Evaluate technologies in two phases similar to the process Fuentek uses for our clients, as illustrated below. By starting with a rapid screening, we weed out the definitely nots and put them in the Release bucket. (If we were asked to perform the screening after patenting, then they go in the Passive Marketing bucket… but that’s another post.) For the remaining technologies, we recommend an in-depth assessment to determine whether the maybes are a yes or a no. For the yes techs that have enough commercial potential to warrant spending additional resources for active marketing, then patenting is (in most cases) appropriate. As with the techs identified as definitely nots during the screening, the no techs are put in the Passive Marketing or Release buckets.

Why the filtering and buckets? It all is intended to help TTOs make better decisions about how to allocate their resources to increase the number of tech transfer deals.

I am curious to know whether the poll-takers who make the decision within 1 month use an approach that is similar to Fuentek’s. Feel free to comment below or use our Contact Us page to send us a private message.

Of course, it’s possible for the patenting decision to be made too fast. How fast is too fast? If you’re filing for patent protection on everything and then deciding what to do with it, that’s too fast. It’s also too expensive.

There is value in making the patenting decision quickly, and Fuentek’s experience has found that a rapid screening is the best way to tackle technology triage efficiently and cost-effectively. Want to know more? Register for our May 19th webinar Putting Your Interns to Work: A Step-by-Step Process for Technology Screenings. Although it’s designed specifically for interns, the principles are best practices that are useful for all tech transfer professionals.

And if you’re wondering about our next poll, it’s up! Our new poll: When making the patenting decision, which is the most important factor to consider: patentability, technical viability, or market factors?

Laura A. Schoppe