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Create, identify, and protect intellectual property

Need assistance with intellectual property?

Translating research discoveries into broader knowledge, or into products and services that can have global benefits to society, is an integral part of the mission of Duke University. This can be accomplished through licensing intellectual property rights to existing companies or to startups, or through open sharing of innovations that others may use and build upon. Researchers should plan for these activities at the idea generation stage.

Many Duke offices provide services to help faculty, staff, and students with all aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship ranging from market and technology assessment of new ideas, intellectual property (IP) protection strategies, identifying translational funding, startup company business modeling and  and introductions to potential investors. Additionally, you and your collaborators can get help with appropriate attribution and credit for your innovations.


Intellectual property, patents, and copyrights

Intellectual property matters should be considered early and often during the research process, in particular as your ideas are being developed and prior to any publication. Why? An early discussion with the Duke Office for Translation and Commercialization (OTC) ensures that your innovations are appropriately protected, the correct contributors are listed, and if necessary, agreements are in place prior to engaging in collaborative works within and beyond Duke.

Duke ScholarWorks, within the Duke Libraries, can help you develop plans to share your copyrightable work with researchers and the public across the globe. The Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communications can answer questions about copyright and fair use, and address licensing, privacy, and other legal issues related to using other people’s work in your own, and publishing your own research for others to use.

Before publicly disclosing your ideas (preferably three months prior), please contact OTC to determine whether intellectual property protection is needed.


Innovation and commercialization

The Office for Translation and Commercialization (OTC) works closely with researchers to assist you with questions related to marketability, funding sources, commercial partners, patenting and other protection methods, new business start-up considerations, and University policies and procedures to ensure the best path for your innovation. Public disclosures (e.g. abstracts, presentations, journal manuscripts) might impact the ability to obtain patent protection. We encourage you to contact OTC early and often especially as you plan to publicly share your research findings with others.   

Entrepreneurial and translational funding resources

Utilize the tool below to explore Duke programs and external partnerships that provide funding and support opportunities for entrepreneurial and translational research.