Carnegie Mellon University


Internal Disclosure Forms

Third Party Forms & Sample Agreements

  • Biological Material Transfer Agreement [pdf]
  • Evaluation License and Option Agreement [pdf]
  • Materials Transfer and Evaluation Agreement [pdf]
  • Non-Biological Material Transfer Agreement [pdf]
  • One Way Confidentiality Agreement [pdf]
  • CMU Spin-off License Template [pdf]
  • CMU 3rd party License Template [pdf]
  • Inter Institutional Agreement [pdf]
  • UBMTA Implementing Letter [pdf]*
*Before you download the UBMTA Implementing Letter, please verify that the institution you are working with is a participant of the UBMTA. Please be sure to send a copy to our office to have on file: Email [innovation (at) cmu (dot) edu] / Fax to 412-268-7395.


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Confidentiality agreements are legal contracts that govern the exchange and use of confidential information. You should get a confidentiality agreement in place each time you want to receive confidential information, share your confidential information or transfer someone else's confidential information. Make sure they are in place before you give or receive the information. For more on confidentiality agreements, contact us.

Copyrights protect "original works of authorship" including literary, musical and artistic works, computer software, photographs, designs, sound recordings, pantomimes, choreographies, and motion pictures. In general, the author of a copyrighted work has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute and display the work as well as the right to develop derivative works or to perform the work publicly. Per CMU IP Policy, many of these rights are retained by the Creator; however, ownership rights in computer software may be retained by the university.  Copyright registration is not required to secure copyright protection; the protection begins as soon as the work is fixed in a tangible medium. However, if the copyright owner wants to sue someone for copyright infringement, copyright registration provides additional rights.

Intellectual Property (IP) describes the spectrum of human creativity, any intangible asset that is comprised of human knowledge and ideas. IP law defines: rights over the property, requirements and methods for obtaining the rights, content of the IP, and duration of the IP holder's rights. CTTEC helps protect inventors’ IP through Confidentiality Agreements, Patents, Copyrights and Open Source Licenses.

Licenses are the formal mechanism of transfer of Carnegie Mellon's technology to either existing companies or to a start-up company. They define the intellectual property to be transferred, the royalty terms, exclusivity, and the development milestones to be met by the company (often including minimum amounts of capital to be raised and significant measures of progress) to ensure that the technology is being moved to market for public benefit as consistent with the Bayh-Dole Act.

Open Source is a way of distributing software to the public. In general, open source refers to any program whose source code is made available for use or modification under an approved Open Source license.  CMU prefers the use of some open source licenses over others.  Some issues to consider include:

  • Do you want the uses to be limited to educational, research or non-commercial?
  • Do you want the source code to be available?
  • Do you want to limit distribution rights?
  • Are users required to provide alterations back to you and/or make them publicly available as well under the same agreement?
  • Can others charge for products that use the code? (e.g. Redhat)
  • Are users required to keep an attribution to the original authors?

More information on this topic is available at the open source initiative

Patents give the owner the right to exclude others from making, using or selling a product or process claimed by the patent. They are granted by the government and give the owner rights for a specific period of time, usually 20 years. Types of inventions that can be patented include the discovery or creation of new material, a new process, a new use for an existing material, or an improvement to a process or material. See FAQ for more on patents.

Prior Art is a legal concept; in most systems of patent law, it is any and all information or evidence available to the public before the effective filing date of your patent application that may be relevant to the patent's claims of originality. Under U.S. Law, this concept is codified at 35 U.S.C. Sec. 102.


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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.