Frequently Asked Questions

 You Can find further information at the Office of IP Development and Commercialization.

If you are a student with an invention developed by you using significant University resources (e.g. equipment, faculty/staff time, or funding), N.C. A&T may have standing to ownership and so steps need to be followed to confirm that ownership may be properly released to the student. 

Students should complete the IP Ownership Questionnaire (found here) and email the form to the IP Clinic at The Questionnaire will be reviewed by the Office of IP Development and Commercialization. An employee in the Office of IP Development and Commercialization will complete any paperwork necessary to document student ownership of IP.  

If you are a student with an invention developed without using significant University resources (e.g. in a student dorm/residence develop IP based on information learned in a class but not with University funding, nor with an inventive contribution from a faculty member), then you own the invention and do not need to complete the Questionnaire. 

Generally, IP created by faculty or staff working on University research or other University projects, is owned by the University if it is created either: 

  1. within the scope of University employment, including work under University grants and contracts with third parties; or 
  2. with significant use of University resources. 

If the IP is created outside the scope of University employment and without any significant use of University resources, the individual will own the intellectual property. 

If you are a University employee (e.g. staff or faculty) please reach out directly to the Office of IP Development and Commercialization (, to discuss the development of your invention, so that you have access to the proper resources and the university follows applicable campus, UNC System, federal, and/or sponsor guidelines.  

To protect the confidentiality of your invention, you should only offer the SME/BM a non-confidential summary of your technology.  The Non-Confidential Student Invention Summary is here.
A non-confidential summary is a brief summary of an invention used to elicit interest from second party companies who will develop the technology or bring the technology to the market. Non-confidential summaries include a general description, but not the details that make your invention unique.  

  • You can describe the problem that your invention solves, but not how your invention solves the problem. 

  • You can describe the limitations of third party work (limitations your invention overcomes or does not have). 

You will not provide confidential information to the SME/BM, so you will not risk public disclosure or losing ownership of your IP when you discuss it with advisors in the Clinic. Each SME and BM will base their discussion on the non-confidential summary of your invention. The advisors are not there to improve/revise your invention. 

The Student Invention Disclosure (<hyperlink to Student Invention Disclosure>) is a confidential form for you to document your invention, and serves as NC A&T’s record of an invention, the inventors involved, sponsorships, and other related information. The disclosure: 

  • Identifies key prior art references you have found; 

  • Evaluates the Technology Readiness Level of your invention and what work has yet to be done; 

  • Specifies the points of novelty for your invention; and 

  • Compares your invention to what is currently in the marketplace. 

We recommend that you complete the form before discussion with a Subject Matter Expert (SME), and the information that you share with the SME should only be non-confidential information. You should definitely complete the form before a discussion with Patent Counselors in the IP Clinic. Patent counselors may not review the form, but you should have thought about, or know the answers to the questions. 

 The IP Ownership Questionnaire (<hyperlink to IP Ownership Questionnaire>) is a form for students who have an invention developed using University resources (e.g. equipment, faculty/staff time, or funding). It serves  to identify the conception and reduction to practice of the invention, so that the Office of IP Development and Commercialization can identify what, if any, documentation is needed to confirm student ownership of the invention. The form requires students to: 

  • List the circumstances under which the problem and the solution to the problem was identified; and

  • Identify any University resources that might have been used in development of the invention. 

Prior art is any evidence that your invention is already known. Prior art does not need to exist physically or be commercially available. It is enough that someone, somewhere, sometime previously described, showed, or made something that contains a use of technology that is very similar to your invention.