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Northwestern University

Disclosing Information Publicly

Once you decide to start a business, it is important to be careful on how much information is being disclosed to the public. Public disclosures could limit your ability to obtain patent rights. In addition, it might create the risk that somebody will copy your ideas.

If you are in a startup but have not licensed the invention, please consult your invention manager at INVO before making any public disclosures. The invention manager will let you know if signing a Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA) is necessary. Samples of CDAs are found on our Guidelines for Confidentiality Agreements webpage.

In general, it is wise not to provide too many details of the invention when communicating with an external party. Even when common interests are clear and further and more serious discussion is indicated, it is not necessary to provide all the details about the invention or the company. Most investors often do not want to learn confidential information until they have moved onto the stage of “due diligence” and are seriously contemplating an investment. At that point, if the startup has already optioned or licensed the technology, they should already have a template confidentiality (nondisclosure) agreement.

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