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Inventor Portal FAQs

1. What different types of intellectual property disclosure forms are available on the portal? How do I know which form to use?

  • Invention Disclosure Form: In most cases, you’ll be completing the Invention Disclosure Form.  This form should be used for all inventions and/or discoveries including those that may have a software component associated with the invention or discovery.
  • Copyright Disclosure Form: If you are disclosing literary works (e.g., surveys or questionnaires, videos, educational materials, designs, artistic works, or other copyrightable materials other than software code), use the Copyright Disclosure Form. 
  • Software Disclosure Form: If you are disclosing software code, use the Software Disclosure Form.
  • Research Reagent/Research Tool Registry Disclosure Form: If you are registering a research tool (e.g. antibody, plasmid, cell line, mouse/animal model, bacterial strain, etc.), use the Research Reagent/Research Tool Registry Disclosure Form.

2. Where can I access policies and information related to disclosing, patenting and commercializing inventions, including royalty distribution, intellectual property and conflict of interest?

3. Help! I’m having trouble finding my department using the Department Search function.

  • If your department isn’t listed in the dropdown menu, select the purple ellipsis to take you to the Department Search
  • Use the Filter box to search for your department. Try searching your department with only the first four letters in your department name (ex.  Search ‘chem’ or ‘biol’ to populate a list of departments in various schools that contain these letters).
  • If you are unable to locate your department using the Filter function, understand that the departments are listed below the schools/institutes (ex. McCormick, Feinberg, College of Arts and Sciences, etc.).  You may have to expand the arrow next to your school to see your department.
  • Once your department is located, there may be multiple entries for your department. Select the entry with the arrow next to it.  If there is no arrow, select the topmost entry of your department.

4. What are the role types? Can more than one person be listed as a PI?

  • The PI is the Primary Investigator. Additional inventors will be listed as Inventor.  You may designate more than one person as a PIPlease ensure at least one PI is designated.

5. In what order should we enter inventor (developer or author) names?

  • The Inventor Listing Order is at the discretion of the disclosers. Please note that if a patent application is filed, the inventors will be listed in the order submitted.  Under U.S. Patent Law, all named inventors are treated as equal contributors to a patent application on which they are named, regardless of which inventor is listed first; the order of inventor names does not indicate or designate contribution. However, note that the first named inventor will be used to cite to patent documents (e.g., Jane Doe, John Woe, Bob Dole will be cited as Doe, et. al). Therefore, if it is important that an inventor name be first, please enter that inventor’s name first.  

6. How should I search for my co-inventors (or co-authors/developers/collaborators) in the Add Inventor section? What if I can’t find someone in the search?

  • The Add Inventor section allows people searches based on name, NU employee ID or email address. It is recommended to search an email address or NU employee ID. This will narrow down the field and prevent erroneous inventors with similar names from being added to a disclosure.  If you are unable to locate a person after a search, you may use the Add a New Contact link within the search return box.  Note that the following fields are required when adding a new contact to our database:  first name, last name, citizenship, email address, phone number, and address. 

7. What if some of my co-inventors (or co-authors/developers/collaborators) are not affiliated with Northwestern University or are no longer at Northwestern University?

  • You should add ALL co-inventors (or co-authors/developers/collaborators) regardless of whether they are currently affiliated with Northwestern University. You may search our database to see if a record exists for the person.  If no record exists, you may Add a New Contact (see FAQ #6). 
  • Note that persons who are not currently affiliated with Northwestern University (i.e. do not have an active NetID) will be unable to access the disclosure on the Inventor Portal.
  • It is the responsibility of the Discloser(s) to ensure signatures for the non-NU inventors are obtained after the disclosure is submitted (See FAQ #8 for details).

8. How do I obtain the signatures of my co-inventors (or co-authors/developers/collaborators) without active NetIDs (not currently affiliated with Northwestern University)?

  • Once your disclosure has been submitted, the Discloser should use the Download PDF feature to create a PDF of the disclosure. The Discloser should send this document to co-inventors without active NetIDs and request signature.  Signatures may be in ink or electronic form but must appear on the appropriate signature line at the end of the disclosure document.
  • Once obtained, email the signature documents to
  • Inventors with active NetIDs will sign digitally. It is unnecessary to obtain signatures from current NU persons.

9. What if my name as listed in the inventor section of the disclosure (based on Northwestern HR records) is not how I want my name to appear in any potential patent filing?

  • The disclosure form provides a Preferred Filing Name field that gives inventors the opportunity to choose how their name will appear should a patent application be filed. It is important to understand that the patent prosecution process may require signatures on a variety of legal documents. Therefore, it is recommended that inventors choose a Preferred Filing Name that closely matches their name as listed on official government identification.  For example, using or not using a middle initial or middle name is generally allowable.  Please do not use nicknames that are not reflected on official government identification.
  • If your legal name has changed recently or is incorrectly listed by Northwestern HR, please let us know using the Preferred Filing Name Further, you must work with HR to make the appropriate updates to your NU record.  Use the following link to get started:

10. Why am I listed as a subscriber? Who else should be listed as a subscriber? How should I use the subscriber field? What is the distinction between the creator of a disclosure and other subscribers?

  • Inventors/PIs are automatically added as subscribers to the disclosure. Subscribers receive notifications related to the disclosure and are able to view the disclosure.  Subscribers are not able to edit the disclosure.  
  • Some disclosers may find it helpful to add assistants and/or other collaborators who are not listed inventors.
  • Any subscribers added by a discloser (person who creates the disclosure form) will by default be able to view but not edit a disclosure form. However, if that subscriber is also added as an inventor with edit rights, they will be able to edit the disclosure.
  • The creator of a disclosure (discloser) is automatically added as a subscriber with edit rights. A discloser does not have to be an inventor to have edit rights.

11. Why am I being asked to Save Draft after I already added and saved a row in a section of the disclosure?

  • Any time you add a row in a section of the disclosure, you must Save Draft before proceeding further or you risk losing information entered in the row.
    • For example, in the Public Disclosure section, you may add a row indicating a particular public disclosure and then select Save. A warning will then indicate that you must Save Draft. To ensure that row is saved you must select Save Draft at the top or the bottom of the disclosure screen. 
  • We recommend regularly utilizing Save Draft as information is entered to ensure data isn’t lost.

12. Where can I include other relevant information that I want INVO to know about my disclosure?

  • The Remarks section is a great place to add short additional messages to your disclosure. This section may also be used to communicate with your co-inventors.  Please note that once a disclosure is saved as a draft a new remark in this section generates an email to all inventors and subscribers about the update.
  • Use the Documents section to upload any additional materials that support the disclosure or any other relevant documentation. Please note that documents must be uploaded one at a time.

13. How will my co-inventors (or co-authors/developers/collaborators) know when I create or update a disclosure?

  • Email notifications are generated and sent when:
    • an inventor or subscriber is added to a disclosure
    • a remark is added to a disclosure
    • the disclosure is submitted
    • the disclosure is approved
    • a signature is required

14. Which form should Pediatrics faculty with a Lurie appointment use?

Invention Disclosure. We consolidated the general Invention Disclosure and Lurie Invention Disclosure forms into one under the Inventor Portal. Please check "Are/were any inventors on this disclosure affiliated with Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago at the time of invention?" and add the additional details requested.

15. What if my Northwestern NetID is not active anymore but I still have an invention to disclose?

Please contact and we will email you a form. We are currently working on a different login alternative for those who do not have an active NetID anymore.

16. Who should I contact if I have any questions about the Inventor Portal?

Please contact