If your work could become commercially valuable then it is important to consider keeping it confidential as a way to protect your IP. If you give information to another individual about your research, whether at a conference or elsewhere, it can prevent you commercialising your research and therefore reduce its impact.
This may sound counter-intuitive as publication was often seen as a way for industry to access research results. But, by ensuring research results are kept confidential this can allow for other IP rights to be registered, such as a patent prior to publication.
If you have to disclose important and confidential information for example when engaging with a potential collaborative partner then you must ensure a written confidentiality agreement is in place first. These agreements are often called “Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements” or “Non-Disclosure Agreements”. Non-Disclosure Agreements can only be signed by an authorised signatory of the University. For advice on how to set this up, please contact the RISe team.
If you’re about to publish research, which may have some commercial benefit, at a conference or elsewhere you must contact the Research and Innovation Services (RISe) team who can advise and support you on disclosing your information safely by for example, completing a patent application before publication.
Other ways to protect my information
If information is confidential, then it is a good idea to mark it as confidential and telling any recipients to keep it confidential. Even if no agreement has been signed, this may offer some protection. You should also keep a record of what has been disclosed and could ask the recipient to acknowledge receipt. A short written record of meetings or other verbal communication could also be a useful record of what has been disclosed with a polite request not to pass the information on.
You don’t need to disclose more information than is necessary if you don’t have an agreement in place. Instead of giving the details of how an invention works, just focus on the benefits that the recipient may get.
For advice on any of the above, accessing support to further develop an idea, or if you think your research has generated IP which could be commercially valuable please *get in touch* with the RISe team