FAQ - Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation - Carnegie Mellon University

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Does commercializing technology compromise the University's mission? It should not. A key part of Carnegie Mellon's mission is to "transfer intellectual products to society." Commercializing technology can be as effective as graduating students and publishing papers in disseminating knowledge and discoveries. Therefore we believe technology commercialization is in direct alignment with the University's mission and our faculty members’ goals.
What are the basic deliverables of CTTEC? In performing its job of managing the intellectual property rights of the university, the CTTEC negotiates and assists with:
  • Inter-institutional Agreements (license revenue sharing between institutions)
  • Confidentiality Agreements (for inventions disclosed to CTTEC)
  • Material Transfer Agreements (for inventions disclosed to CTTEC)
  • Option Agreements
  • License Agreements
  • New Company Formations
  • Inventor Split Agreements
What are the rewards of technology transfer? Broad dissemination of work originating at the university can greatly benefit the public. It serves to maximize the impact of an invention. Partnerships between university researchers and companies can lead to new insights and applications of the work. It may result in research sponsorships and other financial rewards for the creators. It can benefit the regional economy and Carnegie Mellon graduates by creating jobs. It drives new product introductions, new company formation, and regional economic development.

How long does it take for a university invention to go to market?

Most university inventions are considered "early stage" technologies, and they do not become products or become widely accepted by the public for an average of three to five, and sometimes as long as 10 years.
What qualifies for a patent?

There are certain criteria that must be met before a patent is issued. The invention must be:

  • Novel - it must be uniquely different from all other examples of prior art.
  • Useful - it must have at least one specific use.
  • Non-obvious - it would not be obvious to someone with "ordinary skill in the art" to develop the same invention after reviewing all of the relevant prior art.

Novelty can be tricky. In United States, patents are awarded to the "first to invent" rather than the first to file for patent protection. To receive a patent, an invention must be new and cannot have been publicly known. This means the invention:

  • Cannot have been published anywhere in the world more than one year prior to filing a patent application (includes publication, display or other form of description)
  • Cannot have been sold (or offered for sale) in the U.S. more than one year prior to filing a patent application
  • Cannot have been used publicly in the U.S. more than one year prior to filing a patent application
Publishing may affect patentability. Outside the U.S., any public disclosure immediately eliminates the possibility of filing a patent application. In some countries, simply telling one person about your invention without a confidentiality agreement might affect your rights. In the United States, the inventor is allowed one year from the date of publication to apply for patent protection.
How much does a patent cost? You can expect a typical U.S. patent to cost somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000 and take up to five years to obtain. Equivalent foreign patents could cost significantly more.