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Have you discovered or invented something as a BNL researcher? Protect your discovery by filing a Record of Invention form. The form alerts both BNL and the Department of Energy to new discoveries and enables a patent application to be filed to claim them. The Office of Technology Commericalization and Partnerships helps BNL inventors protect and commercialize their inventions and can help you secure external sources of research funding.

Intellectual Property

The Intellectual Property Legal Group (IPLG) provides legal advice on intellectual property matters affecting the Laboratory community at large, the Office of Technology Commercialization and Partnerships and research staff. IPLG provides legal review of Material Transfer Agreements and Non-disclosure Agreements, which must be signed by duly authorized representatives before a BNL researcher can discuss or work with an outside institution.

IPLG guides the Lab on intellectual property matters, including but not limited to:

  • Determining whether an invention is patentable.
  • Intellectual Property presentations providing an overview of copyright and patent law including a perspective on these legal doctrines from the point of view of the researcher.
  • Maintaining an adequate lab notebook.
  • Implementing the open source software (OSS) process for your OSS and assessing a repository to host the software.

Would you like us to present to your group?  Contact us for more information and to schedule a time.

Non-disclosure Agreements

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legally binding contract between BSA and another institution(s), which is intended to protect information considered to be proprietary or confidential.

These agreements are negotiated and executed by the Intellectual Property Legal Group. Researchers do not have the authority to sign NDAs on behalf of BSA.

Before entering into a non-disclosure agreement with an outside organization, consider the following.

  • The NDA will contain terms and conditions that you will be required to abide by. For example, you will have to keep accurate documents of all information exchanged (information that is received and disclosed, orally as well as in writing).
  • Your ability to do research and development related to the proprietary information may be impacted. For example, the scope of your research may be limited to a narrow purpose defined in the NDA.
  • BNL researchers should limit the availability of information exchanged and the amount of proprietary information received and/or disclosed.
  • ONLY disclose information designated as proprietary information to those individuals whose receipt of information is necessary for the NDA purpose (i.e., only those who have a need to know consistent with the purpose in the NDA).

There are a number of provisions in an NDA which are not addressed by these points, so it's important to realize that an NDA can negatively impact your ability to conduct research. Therefore, an NDA may not be warranted in all circumstances.

All potential NDAs are to be forwarded to the Intellectual Property Legal Group.  At least two weeks are needed to negotiate and fully execute an NDA. 

DO NOT discuss the intellectual property until the NDA is signed by both parties.

Material Transfer Agreements

Materials produced by researchers at BNL may be of interest to another institution, and may be transferred at no-cost (or for cost of materials) for evaluation or for non-commercial research under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). Depending on the circumstances under which the material was developed such material may be transferred to industry for a number of reasons (e.g., testing, feasibility studies, etc.). This transfer is usually temporary and can initiate a more formal working arrangement. Or, you may have research materials that you would like to receive from another institution to fulfill your research plans. In either case, a material transfer agreement may be used to facilitate the transfer. All MTAs covering a material transfer must be reviewed by the Intellectual Property Legal Group to ensure that BNL may receive or provide such material.