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Release: Immediate

UIRF reports record number of inventions, patents in fiscal year 1997-98

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa faculty and staff disclosed a record number of inventions during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998, according to a report prepared by the University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF).

The 90 invention disclosures to the UIRF in FY98 topped the old annual record of 86 established in 1997. It marks the sixth time in seven years that a new record for invention disclosures has been set at the UI, said W. Bruce Wheaton, UIRF executive director.

"We take our responsibility for technology transfer very seriously. These achievements are a credit to the UIRF and the marvelous initiative of UI researchers," said UI President Mary Sue Coleman.

The UIRF filed a record 69 patent applications based on the 90 disclosures in 1998, surpassing the previous record of 38 applications in 1997. Wheaton expects that many of the applications will result in patents that will be issued over the next several years.

Based on applications filed in previous years, the UIRF received a record 21 patents on behalf of university inventors in 1998, surpassing the previous annual record of 19 patents in 1994 and 1995. Inventors were from the UI Colleges of Medicine, Liberal Arts (biochemistry and chemistry) and Pharmacy.

The UIRF executed 22 licenses in 1998 for development and commercialization of UI technology. Royalty and license fee income to the UIRF was about $900,000 in 1998.

Since 1987 the UIRF has received 737 invention disclosures, filed 281 patent applications, received 167 issued patents, executed 167 technology licenses and earned $6.2 million in royalties and license fee income.

The UIRF, located in the Technology Innovation Center at Oakdale, is designated by university policy as the manager of inventions made by faculty, staff, and students. It oversees the procurement of patents and the commercial licensing of academic inventions.

Background on intellectual property management at the UI

* UI faculty, staff and students are obligated by policy to disclose inventions to the UIRF, a non-profit corporation affiliated with the UI.

* UIRF's principal objective is to enable beneficial human use for UI discoveries and inventions.

* UIRF evaluates invention disclosures for patentability and commercial potentialwith advice from patent attorneys and the UI Patent Committee.

* UIRF seeks to license UI inventions to industry partners. In some cases, these partners may need to invest many years and hundreds of millions of dollars in order to bring a new product or technology to market.

* In some cases, UIRF technology is licensed to "spin-off" companies started by UI inventors and located in the Technology Innovation Center, the UI business incubator on the Oakdale Campus.

* Income from UIRF license agreements provides the UIRF operating budget and provides important support for research endeavors at the UI. License income also rewards the inventor(s) personally.

Background on patents, copyrights, and licenses

* A patent is a document, issued by the federal government, that grants to its owner a legally enforceable right to exclude others from practicing the invention described and claimed in the document for a term ending 20 years from the date of filing an application for a patent. To be timely, a patent application must be filed within one year of public disclosure (written publication, oral publication, poster presentations, etc.). This one-year grace period, however, is not available in most foreign countries. A U.S. inventor who wants to obtain corresponding foreign patents must first file an application in the United States before it is divulged to the public. (Source: American Intellectual Property Law Association).

* Copyright is a statutory property right, which grants to creators ("authors") certain exclusive rights in their creations for a limited duration. Copyright protects intangible original works of authorship, which are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Put another way, copyright protects the expression of ideas, but not the ideas themselves. Copyright protects works such as books, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, music, photographs, movies and computer programs (Source: American Intellectual Property Law Association).

* A license is an agreement whereby the UIRF (as patent owner/licensor) formally grants permission to the corporate partner (licensee) to develop and commercialize the invention under certain defined negotiated conditions.

For further details, please contact the University of Iowa Research Foundation at 214 Technology Innovation Center, Oakdale Campus, (319) 335-4546.