FAQs & Policies and Guidelines

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers on how ILO can work with you to protect, manage and commercialise your research.

Intellectual Property

What Is intellectual property?
Intellectual property (IP) is a legal concept which refers to creations of the mind for which exclusive rights are recognised. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyright, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. If you are in the science field, most IP is in the form of patents.
What can be patented and is my idea patentable?
Most inventions can be patented if they fulfill the following three criteria: Novelty, Non-obviousness, and Industrial Utility. Things that are outright unpatentable (depending on the country) include laws of nature, discoveries and mechanisms, and methods of treatment.
What type of protection does a patent actually grant?
Having a patent for your invention does not give you the right to practice an invention, but it does give you the right to exclude others from doing so. During the time a patent is in place, a patent holder or licensee can exclude competitors from making and selling products similar to the patented idea of invention.
How do I get started submitting an invention to ILO?
If you have an invention to disclose, please complete the form here. After it is received by our office, one of our case officers will schedule a meeting with you to further discuss the invention. After conducting a review of the technology to determine patentability and feasibility of commercialisation, they will provide a recommendation for the appropriate type of protection for your invention.
How long does ILO take to decide whether or not to file a patent application for my invention?
The stipulated review period for an invention disclosure at ILO is 90 days.
How does ILO decide on whether to file a patent application or not?
Our office bases our decision on patentability (which is subject to the three criteria described above) as well as the commercial potential of the technology. This could include an evaluation of the market need, potential regulatory and government hurdles, and initial interest from relevant companies.
Once ILO decides to file on my invention, do I automatically have a patent?
No, ILO files a patent application for you which then must pass through several stages (and years) before becoming an issued patent.
How long does it take for a patent to be granted?
It can take anywhere from 4-7 years after a patent application is first filed for an actual patent to be granted. Along the way there are numerous costs involved and the application can be abandoned at any stage.
Who drafts the patent application?
Our office works with a highly experienced team of lawyers based in the U.S. and UK to draft your patent application.
How long does it take to file a patent application?
Depending on the number of claims and complexity of the subject matter, it can take anywhere from 1 day to 1 month to draft and file a provisional patent application. A lot of it can depend on the availability of inventors to respond to questions posed by the lawyers during the drafting process. Provisional applications can be filed rather quickly if there is an urgent need but this practice is discouraged as it leads to very weak patent applications.
Who owns the invention and patent rights?
NUS is the legal owner of the invention and patent rights. Should NUS choose not to file a patent application for your invention or abandon your application at any stage, you can make a request that NUS assign the invention rights to you. NUS grants rights on a case-by-case basis.
Can early disclosure of an invention compromise the right to protect my invention?
In most countries, the right of patent protection is lost or jeopardized if a public disclosure is made prior to the filing of a patent application. A public disclosure is information about the invention that is readily available to the public and that is “enabling” – meaning it describes of the technology in enough detail that someone else in the field would be able to make and use the invention.
We therefore urge you to contact our office once you become aware of an impending public disclosure. We will work with you to evaluate and protect your invention without affecting the timeline of your publication or conference proceedings.
What constitutes a public disclosure?
Common modes of public disclosure include: publications, lectures, published abstracts and posters, conferences and symposia, theses and dissertations. Things that do not constitute a public disclosure include: grant application and internal/departmental seminars and talks where external parties are not present.
How do I decide who to include as an inventor on a patent application?
Inventorship is a legal determination and is not the same as authorship. Patent inventors need to have made an intellectual contribution to the invention. If you need help deciding on the inventor list for a patent application, please contact our office.

Policies and Guidelines for Researchers

It is important that you be aware of and abide with the following IP-related policies:

Policies Relating To University Intellectual Property (version 110309)

The main purpose of the Policies set out in this document is:

  • To clarify and regulate the protection, management and commercialisation of University Intellectual Property;
  • To delineate the rights and obligations of the University and the University Members with respect to the Intellectual Property created or developed in the course of University Research;
  • To motivate the creation, development and dissemination of Intellectual Property by providing appropriate financial rewards to the creators and the University.

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Conflict of Interest Policy Relating to Spin-Off Companies

Some of the companies the University licenses its IP (“Spin-offs”) to involve University staff, alumni, and/or students who have a financial interest in the company. The growth of such licensing activities has given rise to questions about how the University should go about licensing its technology to a Spin-off as well as what other relationships the University should have with these companies. The University has a general Conflict of Interest (COI) policy (Appendix A, OPC 001/18) and code on Research Integrity (Appendix B), but the present document aims to deal specifically with how the University should handle certain issues involving Spin-offs. It is meant to guide staff as to some things to watch out for; and to make formal declaration using, Form: Application For Approval To Undertake Directorships In A Spin-Off (Appendix F, ILO-COI_01/17).