Intellectual Property Advice for Entrepreneurs

Thank you, Mark Coburn, President, Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, for this exclusive for readers of Inside VT KnowledgeWorks:

"A flash of genius may require some additional thought!  As a public educational institution, Virginia Tech encourages disclosure of inventions of all employees so the benefit derived from innovative developments can be used to further Virginia Tech’s educational mission."

A further note from Mark Coburn on invention disclosures from this Virginia Tech Campus Notice:

If an invention appears in print before a patent application is filed, the ability to obtain worldwide rights is lost.

A summary of the suitability of the different timing options follows:

Timing of Disclosure Submission

  • Premature – Innovation: what to do
  • Best – Conception: how to do it
  • Very Good – Reduction to Practice: make it work
  • Good – Preparation of a Paper: describe it
  • Poor – Submission of a Paper or Abstract
  • Poor – Immediately Prior to Public Disclosure
  • Very Poor – Post-Publication or Public Disclosure (foreign patent rights lost)

Here is the full text of the Campus Notice.


  1. I'm glad for the role of Intellectual Properties.

    My whining to deans has gone undelivered, so, safely after retirement, I express the observation that "the benefit derived from innovative developments" cited above has not had any effect on student prices for their education nor has it had any noticeable effect on number of teaching assistants, staff support, or innovative teaching equipment or teacher education. I do not include new building, carpets, or furniture as benefits. Perhaps I mis-perceive. Faculty may be more readily involved if they were aware of and convinced of the group gains from "property rights" within the educational sector of the university.

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