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Anschutz Medical Campus

University of Colorado Denver

Submit an Innovation

Invention Disclosure Process

  • Download the Invention Disclosure Form for patentable inventions. This form requires a complete description of the invention, relevant background information, dated signatures of all inventors, contact information, and the percentage of each inventor's contribution if more than one inventor is involved. Be concise and factual; this information may be used to develop a patent application and is used during the evaluation process. Electronic submission is allowed, but an original form signed by the inventor(s) must follow. Return the form to CU Innovations located at 13001 East 17th Place, Suite W5130 Aurora, CO 80045, or email the completed form to your CU Innovations case manager or

  • Upon receipt of one of these forms, CU Innovations will assign a technology ID number and a technology manager as the primary point of contact. The disclosure is reviewed and an interview is conducted with the inventor(s). Additional information may be needed to fully understand the disclosed invention.

  • Note: These two forms above are best viewed using Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Evaluation Process

Because CU Innovations supports a diverse array of research programs which create many different kinds of impacts, our team is in a position to share best practices across the entire institution. Some innovations are translated effectively through a startup company or licensing relationship, while others need to be transferred through workshops or specialized courses. Still, others can be a platform to attract collaborations and funding through free distribution. Another common path for an innovation is to establish a core laboratory service to apply novel techniques to outside challenges. Our team works closely with other industry-facing units to refer innovations to the appropriate support resources. Our goal is to form a partnership with investigators to provide consulting and tools that meet the investigators’ goals for translating their innovations into impacts. 

Just as innovations can be translated through different mechanisms, different intellectual property tools can be used. Technology transfer is most closely associated with patents and licensing relationships. If a patent is the most appropriate tool, CU Innovations must make an investment decision to allocate a limited budget that supports early stages of patent protection. Our office will complete a market analysis using a variety of resources to determine a preliminary value of the technology, including market size, market share, and associated risks or barriers, and will also complete a patentability assessment. Within four months of receiving a qualified, complete disclosure, CU Innovations will make a decision to invest in a patent or not.

Protecting Your Invention Before Disclosure

Invention seldom occurs by mere happenstance—the "eureka!" or "aha!" type of breakthrough is more a myth than reality. In fact, university invention involves hard work, precise experimentation, and organized record keeping. Researchers should be considering the possibility of creating an invention from the very beginning of their research. By keeping accurate laboratory records from the start, it is easier to document the date of the invention’s conception and to show who was involved in the development of the original idea. This proof is necessary if questions should arise about inventorship and/or ownership.

Remember that public disclosure, in either text or verbal form, may result in a lost opportunity to protect and commercialize your invention. If you think you have created an invention, contact the CU Innovations Office before submitting a manuscript for publication. It is best to call and establish personal contact right away; submitting a completed Invention Disclosure Form is the first step in the process of protecting your invention. Please expand the sections below to learn more about the steps researchers can take to protect future intellectual property, or contact your case manager with any questions.


 Best Practices


 Think and Act Like an Inventor

Think and Act Like an Inventor

How does one go from being a researcher to an inventor? One of the most important aspects of inventorship is thinking commercially: understanding how your research endeavors match up with trends and forces driving change in the marketplace. To do this a researcher must "think application." Ask yourself how your technology can work outside your lab to solve a problem faced by people in society; the bigger the problem, the larger the market.

By thinking of applications and the forces that influence change in these applications, you will broaden your perspective for inventive activity. Gradually you will begin to build and enhance pathways to people that understand the forces influencing change. Typically these will be people in industrial R&D settings who you may know from previous employment and education, e.g., former students, friends from graduate schools, acquaintances met at conferences, successful inventor peers, and so forth. Serial inventors seek these people out and develop their research networks.​


 Maintain Good Laboratory Records

Maintain Good Laboratory Records

Laboratory notebooks serve two essential purposes beyond good organization and record keeping. The first involves preparation of an invention disclosure and possible patent application, processes that are streamlined by good laboratory records. In particular, when patent attorneys begin the process of drafting patent applications, they first turn to researchers’ laboratory notebooks to determine the progress of ideas, experiments, and data. The alternative is oral disclosure; clearly a less precise process.

The second purpose involves defending an issued patent. United States patents are granted on a "first to invent" basis, unlike most other countries where patents are granted on a "first to file" basis. Thus, having adequate laboratory notebook records is essential to identifying the conception and reduction to practice of an invention (these terms are defined below).

Laboratory notebooks provide evidence in defense of challenges made to issued patents. Though patent infringement litigation rarely occurs, more valuable inventions are more likely to be contested. An "infringement" occurs when someone is commercially practicing technology that is protected by an issued patent. To defend against infringement, the patent’s owner (in this case the University of Colorado) must inform the infringer of the patent rights violation. If the infringer contests the claim of infringement, the patent owner typically initiates legal proceedings. Laboratory notebooks must be accessible to defend the patent during the legal proceedings.

To be named an inventor on a U.S. Patent, the applicant must prove two points: initial conception (formation of the idea) of a novel process or product coupled with "reduction to practice" or how the idea would actually work. Reduction to practice must follow initial conception otherwise other inventors could be granted the patent if they were first to reduce the invention to practice. Filing for patent protection is best when there is ample experimental evidence describing "how to do" or "how to make" a compound, device, or process. Patent filing should precede a public disclosure (abstract or article publication, seminar or poster presentation, or similar delivery of inventive information to any group not covered by a confidentiality agreement).

Protecting Your Invention: Two Methods to Support Patent Claims

1. Laboratory Notebooks are by far the most important source of invention documentation. Laboratory notebooks need not be in a particular format; however, the following standards present a reliable format to prevent claims of fraudulent insertion or deletion of entries.

  • Use bound notebooks with pre-numbered pages.
  • Sign your full name and date every page.
  • Use ink when recording ideas and experiments.
  • Use a single strike if anything is crossed out and initial as "strike-outs."
  • Do not skip pages or leave empty spaces. Draw a line through any unused portion and initial and date the marking.
  • Initial across the edge of auxiliary material: i.e., figures and computer printouts that are pasted into the notebook.
  • Do not place results printed on thermal paper in your notebook as it fades over time (copy the data and place it in the notebook).
  • Digital records can be submitted as evidence of an invention, but it is highly recommended that these records be supported with written documentation; courts do not favor digital records.
  • Label ideas or proposals to differentiate them from work actually performed.
  • Have records "witnessed" with signature and date by someone who understands the content of the work on a weekly basis. The witness should not be a direct contributor to the work being reported.
  • Try to preserve the "first samples" of new materials produced by new methods.
  • Retain records of purchase orders for components required for testing.

2. Invention Disclosures provide additional support for determining the actual time of an invention. File an Invention Disclosure with the Technology Transfer Office immediately after the initial conception and before reduction to practice. This confidential, signed, and dated document is an official university record that may be helpful in interference proceedings. Furthermore, the sooner we receive news of inventions, even if only a conception, the better we can understand your interests and prepare for the eventual marketing of your invention.​


 Know Intellectual Property Provisions and Terms

Know Intellectual Property Provisions and Terms

Intellectual property (IP) by its very nature exists in a legalistic contractual environment and cannot be summarized in simple layman terms. It behooves the researcher to understand the lexicon of IP. Not paying attention to the details of a contract can result in serious repercussions beyond loss of inventions. For example, it is common to see limits placed on publications in consulting contracts. The University of Colorado Intellectual Property Guidebook provides IP information beyond what is contained on this web site. In general, if the language you see in research contracts and related documents is not absolutely clear to you, contact CU Innovations for help and interpretations.


Inventor Portal (Beta)

The CU Innovations Office is developing an Inventor Portal to help CU researchers disclose and manage their inventions. If you are a CU researcher and would like to help us beta-test the new Inventor Portal, please contact us to set up an account:

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