Frequently Asked Questions

Why file a patent?

There are a number of reasons for filing a patent application:

  • Potential income for inventors and institutes - PBL only takes on technologies that we consider to have commercial potential, with a reasonable chance of generating revenue to the inventors and their institutes.
  • Requirements of funding bodies - Increasingly funding bodies are looking towards commercial translation of research that they have funded in order to achieve economic and social impact.
  • Public benefit - It takes considerable investment to take basic research and turn it into a new industrial process or into a product that is usable by a consumer and of benefit to society. Without some sort of protection such as afforded by patents no organisation will invest the resources to develop the technology, leaving it undeveloped and unavailable to the outside world.
Can I carry on working on the technology and in the general technical area?

Yes, of course. It is a great advantage if there is ongoing work in the area of an emerging, patented technology. This may help strengthen your patent and provide prototypes and information in support of our marketing of your technology. It may also be the case that our commercial partners/licensees wish to sponsor further work in your lab on the technology, and in such an event PBL can implement suitable sponsored research agreements for you and your organisation.

Can I collaborate with other academics?

Yes. All technologies patented by PBL are available for genuine academic research by your collaborators and others, as you wish, subject to the recipients of any materials signing a standard Material Transfer Agreement (MTA).

What is an MTA?

An MTA is a material transfer agreement that sets out the conditions for gaining access to a particular technology or specific research materials. It will contain conditions relating to field of use (usually limited to academic research only), exploitation or results, and cover the provider of the Materials against liabilities. These type of agreements are standard practice and protect the inventor/scientist from unauthorised exploitation of their technology. For technologies managed by PBL, we will ensure that recipients sign a standard MTA, a free-of-charge service provided by PBL to our source organisations and inventors. 

How much will it cost us?

Nothing. Our usual arrangement is for PBL to take on responsibility for all patent costs in return for a share of the net revenue generated by PBL. PBL does not charge for time spent on a project. This means that there will be no financial risk or charges to you or your institution.

When will I see some money from my technology?

The commercialisation of basic science is a long business, so do not expect immediate riches. However, we try to generate some revenues as soon as possible in any commercialisation deals we do, even for early technical assessments, since, at the very least, this represents a tangible sign of commitment from our commercial partners. Please see the Information for Inventors section for further details.

What constitutes a "disclosure"?

A disclosure is any publication that puts information into the public domain. This could be a paper, poster, abstract, website, or oral presentation – see our Patent Guide. Any of these could affect the patentability of your invention. It is not unknown for journals to publish (online) uncorrected proofs, earlier than the formal publication of a corrected manuscript. Similarly abstracts for meetings/conferences may publish online and these can, depending on the content, constitute an enabling disclosure, hence damaging or destroying patenting prospects. It is better to take advice early, since once disclosed, even in general or speculative terms (such as in the discussion section of a paper, speculating about future research steps), so please contact us for advice.

Are discussions with PBL confidential?

Yes, we consider all discussions that we have with potential inventors as strictly confidential. We are happy to set up a confidentiality agreement between PBL and you or your institution, as appropriate.