Don't steal my idea

Protecting your new discovery from thieves

Eureka moments in the laboratory or design studio are often the result of months or years of work.

Making sure you protect the fruits of your prolonged labors helps maintain your reputation as a researcher or innovator while protecting your future earnings.

Why it matters

  • Ownership: Proprietorship is the No. 1 reason to protect your discoveries. Guarding your intellectual property (IP) ensures exclusive rights to ownership, use or sale. “If you are not ready to share it with the world and hope to someday be compensated for the commercial worth of your discovery, this is crucial,” said Geoffrey Pinski, University of Cincinnati assistant vice president for technology transfer.
  • Reputation: Your credibility could suffer if someone claims credit for your invention or discovery. Failure to legally safeguard your invention could result in someone else claiming exclusive rights — as well as cashing in on your hard work.  

What you can do

  • Use NDAs: Even the most seasoned inventors can fall prey to idea theft. Asking research partners and third parties to sign a non-disclosure agreement helps protect your ideas while a patent is pending.
  • Document your work: Detailed notes on your experiments and findings can support any legal protection you seek, especially if you want to take your idea out of the lab and into the marketplace. It also demonstrates to would-be investors that you are responsible for safeguarding your ideas.
  • Seek expert advice: Maintaining your discovery rights could be challenging on your own, considering the various legal and financial issues involved. If you’re a UC faculty or staff member, UC’s Office of Technology Transfer can help you plot the best course of action. Students and community members can reach out to an attorney or consultant with expertise in commercialization. 

Impact Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is leading public urban universities into a new era of innovation and impact. Our faculty, staff and students are saving lives, changing outcomes and bending the future in our city's direction. Next Lives Here.

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