IP Process Overview

The following overview covers the key events involved in the development, protection and commercialization of an invention. The list depicts the order in which these events typically occur; however, some events may take place simultaneously or in a different order, depending on the needs of the inventors and the university.

The following steps describe the IP Process Overview:

  1. NDSU researcher pursues an academic or sponsored research question. Prior to the actual creation of an invention or in the early stages of reducing the invention to practice, a researcher may require the assistance of the NDSU-TTO in preserving intellectual property rights and, helping maintain the confidentiality of the research in its development stages.
  2. Researcher makes a novel discovery and reports the invention by submitting an Invention Reporting form to NDSU-TTO. For software, there is a Software Reporting form, while plant breeders should use the Plant Variety Report form. All reporting forms are to be submitted to the NDSU-TTO.
  3. NDSU-TTO initially evaluates the reported invention for commercial potential, as well as patent, copyright or trademark or plant variety protection. This process often involves indepth discussions with the inventor.
  4. Inventor(s) assigns the invention to NDSU. NDSU then assigns the invention to the NDSU Research Foundation (NDSU/RF) in order to pursue protection and commercialization of the invention.
  5. NDSU/RF may file for patent or other intellectual propery protection, initially paying all the associated attorney fees and costs of protecting the invention. Proper protection includes geographic considerations, inventorship and clear delineation of claims from any “prior art” and literature.
  6. NDSU/RF continues to explore the commercial marketplace, and assesses commercial value, marketability, intellectual property protection, and the potential for further development.
  7. NDSU/RF takes the final step in the process, initiating one of four options:
    1. Licenses invention to an outside commercial entity
    2. Requests that inventor complete additional research before pursuing further commercialization activities
    3. Licenses the invention to a faculty member’s start-up company
    4. Releases or returns the invention to the government or inventor according to NDSU policy and any applicable contractual or governmental obligations


Additional information is found on the NDSU Technology Transfer website.