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No prior information is needed to understand the Inventions Policy. This page provides an overview of the policy and links to the full text document to ensure understanding and compliance.
The Inventions Policy covers inventions made at U of T. An invention is something that is more than an idea or theorem. It should be new, useful, and not obvious. If the invention can be described in enough detail that someone could use or make it, then it should be disclosed to the University.
The U of T Inventions Policy has three basic objectives.
- To encourage creativity and innovation within the University community
- To facilitate the translation of knowledge for the greatest possible public benefit, including by commercialization through development of Inventions into commercial products or processes
- To ensure that revenue generated by these Inventions is distributed in a manner consistent with the first two objectives and the advancement of research at the University
According to the U of T Inventions Policy, an ‘Invention’ or ‘Inventions’ refers to any of the following.
- “New and useful art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement in any art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter”, whether or not patentable
- Computer software under section 2.6 of the University’s Copyright Policy
- Research data or research tools, including, without limitation, biological material and other tangible research material
- Proprietary information, know how, trademark related to any of the foregoing items
The Inventions Policy covers all Inventions that are made or developed “using, in any way, facilities owned, operated or administered by the university and/or funds of, or funds administered by, the University.” In practical terms, the use of U of T resources can be defined as, but are not limited to, the following.
- All or part of the work was supported by research grants or sponsored research funds, including subgrants, administered by U of T
- All or part of the work was performed in a University-owned or operated facility, laboratory or other University infrastructure
- All or part of the work made use of proprietary software or other applications (e.g. MATLAB) provided by U of T
- All or part of the work made use of specialized or high performance computing facilities owned or administered by U of T, unless there is an agreement to the contrary
A written Invention Disclosure to the Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO) defines the Invention, Inventors, and funding sources to begin the commercialization process.
Learn more about Disclosing an Invention.
U of T has a modern, flexible invention ownership policy that is ‘Inventor’s Choice.’ If U of T resources (e.g. facilities or funding administered by U of T) were used in the creation or development of the invention, U of T’s Inventions Policy applies. At the time of creation, inventions are co-owned by the Inventor and the University (joint-ownership).
An exception to joint ownership is if the rights to an invention were granted to a third party under a separate prior agreement, such as a sponsored research agreement or a material transfer agreement.
Once an invention is disclosed, Inventors may choose to assume full ownership and responsibility for patenting and commercialization (Inventor-owned), or can offer to assign the Invention to U of T (University-owned). Following a review, if the University accepts the invention into its portfolio, IPO is responsible for managing patent expenses and associated revenues. IPO will also work with inventors to determine a commercial path for the technology.
For both inventor-owned or University-owned technology commercialization, inventors have the obligation to disclose their inventions to the University. Disclosing an invention is a requirement before selling, licensing, or otherwise assigning the invention or encumbered copyright material.
Revenues from commercialization and licensing can include upfront fees, minimum annual royalties, milestone payments, earned royalties, and/or equity in a startup company. Whether commercialization is Inventor-led or University-led, the University’s share of proceeds supports faculties and departments, covers costs and advances the University’s academic and research mission, as per the Inventions Policy.
For Inventor-owned technology, net revenues from license fees, royalties, and/or equity are shared 75%/25% between the Inventor(s) and the University.
For University-owned technology, net revenues from license fees, royalties, and/or equity are shared 60%/40% between the Inventor(s) and the University.
- Advise on U of T’s Inventions Policy
- Receive and evaluate Invention Disclosures for discoveries created at U of T
- Support the protection of U of T IP through patenting and other means
- Assist in finding partners and funding to support proof-of-concept and commercialization
- Market U of T technologies to potential licensees, industry and investors
- Negotiate license agreements
- Support long-term relationships with strategic partners that help develop early-stage discoveries into market-ready technologies and products