Transfer your ideas to society!

Science and technology labs are the ideal places for developing innovative solutions. However, inventors sometimes don’t realize that their ideas can find an application in industry, which can in turn have a technical and economic impact on society. Some researchers may think that disclosing an invention is a time-consuming process which is worth doing only in very special cases. But one thing is certain: it is always worth informing the Knowledge and Technology Transfer group, as they will give you the correct advice and support. Don’t be afraid of the paperwork… it can be highly rewarding!


Why should researchers at CERN bother to disclose their inventions to the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Group first? “Because when inventors do so, a process to transfer the technology to industry is set in motion” explains Henning Huuse, Patent Portfolio Manager in the KTT Group. To facilitate this transfer, patent protection can be a useful tool. “CERN files patents when there is a potential for commercial exploitation and we believe that having a patent helps attract industry”, adds Huuse.

Evidently, in order to be patented, a technology needs to be inventive and must not yet have been disclosed publicly. Indeed, inventors often face a dilemma: they wish to publish papers about their work as soon as possible so that the community recognizes their achievements. Unfortunately, once they’ve done that, patenting may no longer be possible. “It is advisable to come to us as soon as possible”, says Henning Huuse. “In this way, we can evaluate the actual potential of the novel technology and whether or not it should be protected. If details about the technology have already been made publicly available it may be too late”.

However, patenting does not prevent you from publishing. Once a patent application has been filed, you can freely publish the content. Some researchers believe that patenting prevents wide dissemination of their scientific results and is in conflict with CERN’s long-standing policy to make the results of its work available to the public. “Patenting does not contradict this, and it is our experience that in many cases a patent will increase the probability of a technology being picked up by industry and made available on the market. This is particularly the case when a technology needs further investment before it becomes a product”, says Henning Huuse. “Furthermore” he adds, “being named in a patent extends the inventor’s recognition from science to industry.”

Last but not least, disclosing a technology does not require much paperwork, and the KTT Group is there to support you in this stage too. So don’t hesitate: if you are developing a new technique, get in touch with the KTT group for professional advice.

by CERN Bulletin