UC inventions at a glance

UC’s technology commercialization program takes inventions from the laboratory to the marketplace, benefiting the public by building alliances with industry to create innovative products for the world and to generate new businesses and jobs for California.

Rights to patentable inventions arising from UC research are assigned to the University under the UC Patent Policy. Campus offices (with systemwide assistance) facilitate the commercialization of these inventions by industry partners; the activities of these offices include management of patent application filings, technology marketing, negotiation of licenses and other agreements, and support for UC-affiliated inventors and entrepreneurs. These relationships with industry are also an important source of support for UC’s research and educational enterprise, providing royalty and fee income to the University, encouraging industry sponsorship of research and nurturing an entrepreneurial ecosystem on the campuses.

  1. Utility Invention – A novel process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter that is a useful and non-obvious improvement over the current state of the art.
  2. Patent – A legal right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing a patented utility invention within a given country; or to exclude others from asexually reproducing or using, offering to sell, or selling an asexually-reproduced patented plant variety within a given country.
  3. Patent Filing – An application made to a country’s patent office to secure patent rights for a particular utility invention or plant variety invention within that country’s territory. A given invention will usually require multiple filings, often with a provisional application as the first filing for the invention.
  4. Secrecy Agreement – An agreement that provides for communication of confidential information about an invention to a commercial party with a non-disclosure obligation. Such confidentiality is maintained prior to patent filings to protect an invention’s patentability.
  5. Letter of Intent/Option – An agreement granting permission to evaluate an invention and elect to take a license to it should the invention prove to be commercially feasible. An option will spell out specific license terms, while a letter of intent outlines the general terms to be included in a license while leaving the specific language to be negotiated later.              
  6. License – A grant of permission to a licensee to engage in activities covered by one or more patents, usually in exchange for payments of royalties and fees, reimbursements for legal expenses, and obligations to develop products. This permission may or may not be exclusive to the licensee, and may be limited to specific fields of use.
  7. Interinstitutional Agreement – An agreement between institutions that jointly hold rights to the same patent to license their interests in the invention together, with one of the institutions taking the lead in managing  the patent while paying a share of any royalties collected to the joint holder. Joint holdings of patents can arise because co-inventors are obligated to assign their patent rights to different employers.
  8. Income Shares – Under mandatory distribution formulas set by UC policies, some patent income is paid to UC-affiliated inventors, while other income shares are earmarked for research-related purposes or paid into the UC General Fund.
  9. NSF - National Science Foundation