Publish and Perish, Patent and Prosper

by Ronda Dillon

Myth: If I patent, then I can not publish . Fact: If I publish, then I can not patent .

The Need to Publish
The academics of the scientific community are under constant pressure to publish their research findings quickly in reputable scientific journals in order to advance their careers through the university ranks of tenure and promotion in anticipation of ac hieving full professorship. Publications are invaluable when applying for Canadian government grants from either of the three granting councils: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Medical Research Council (MRC), and Soc ial Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). However, the granting councils are beginning to realize the importance of the commercial applications of basic research and are allocating more funds towards the increasing number of university- industry partnerships grants.

Patent and Prosper
Obtaining intellectual property for important commercially applied technologies does much more than contribute to a professor's academic achievements. It contributes to both the creation of economical development locally,and a world- renowned reputation for research excellence. This, in turn, enhances Memorial's image as a "good place to invest" further R&D dollars. Patenting technologies is a win-win situation for everybody. So why is it that we do not see more professors eager to patent? The Myth!

Publish and Perish
Many researchers believe that if they patent their technology, it will prohibit them from publishing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, you can patent and still publish. As soon as a patent application is drafted and filed with the respective government patent office, a researcher can publish the contents of that patent application. In essence, the researcher could have "submitted" a manuscript to a journal for publication and could still patent. An issue arises when a manuscript has been submitted, accepted, and published and becomes available to the public domain. Once research findings become known to the public either through a published manuscript, or a poster abstract at a public conference, or through postings on the World Wide Web (WWW), it constitutes a public disclosure. As a result, one is prohibited from seeking patent protection in any country except Canada and the United States. Fortunately, a one-year grace period from the date of publication is granted in North A merica.

You can conduct your own patent searches FREE by using the Internet. The following WWW sites are quite useful: Canadian Patent Database
IBM Patent Database - searches US patents
US Patent Database

You can obtain full patents through MicroMedia Ltd. 240 Catherine Street, Suite 305, Ottawa, Ont. K2P 2G8 Tel: 1- 800-567-1914 e-mail:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future articles about technology transfer, please contact Ronda Dillon, Seabright Corp. Ltd. Tel: 709-737-2682 Fax: 709-737-4029, or by e-mail:

Seabright Corporation Limited