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What is Disclosure?

An invention disclosure is Northwestern University's record of an invention, the inventors involved, sponsorships and other related information. You may be required to disclose your invention through Northwestern's University Patent and Invention Policy.

Submitting an invention disclosure to the INVO is the first step in the disclosure process that could potentially result in a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Submitting an invention disclosure to our office does not automatically mean your invention will be filed or patented.

Discussing your invention and public disclosure

INVO welcomes faculty to frequently communicate with their respective Invention Managers (IMs) regarding their technologies. IMs can offer advice on timing of disclosing, patentability and possible commercialization paths.

However, if you wish to talk about your invention with others outside of INVO, our office can help get a confidentiality disclosure agreement (also known as a CDA or NDA) in place to protect the technologies at hand. Be aware that you cannot sign a CDA on behalf of the University. Only authorized individuals can do so. If the agreement is breeched, you would be putting yourself at risk.

Note that invention disclosure is not the same as a "public disclosure." Inventions are considered publicly disclosed if they are described in a printed publication or oral disclosures, are used by or are made available to the public, or if they are for sale. Read more about public disclosure. To best protect intellectual property, it is highly recommended that inventions are filed with the USPTO before they are publicly shared, as patent protection may otherwise be limited. INVO recommends submitting your invention disclosure 3-4 weeks prior to your public disclosure.