Guide to Technology Commercialization


Protect your work! Before you publish or present, send us your idea.



When your research has generated a new invention that you want to protect or commercialize—or even if you are not sure whether your idea merits this step yet—we encourage you to contact GW’s Technology Commercialization Office (TCO). We’re here to answer your questions and guide you through the process.





Through the course of your research, you may arrive at an idea–or an asset embodied by an idea–that can lead to an invention. This is your intellectual property (IP), and it can be protected by patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and other methods. A patentable invention can include a machine, process, article of manufacture, composition of matter or an improvement on any of these. It must also be novel, not obvious and clearly and definitively belong to you. 





It is critical that you involve our office as early as possible to protect your invention. Before making your invention or discovery public (e.g. presenting at a conference, submitting a manuscript for publication), we encourage you to contact us first. Such “public disclosures” can forfeit the right to apply for patents. We can advise you on whether to submit an invention disclosure form and help determine things like inventorship when multiple researchers may have contributed to an invention. 





Submit your intellectual property through the GW Inventor Portal (enter via single sign-on) and we will evaluate your invention or discovery. The process is simple and confidential, and we’ve outlined it on our Disclose Your Invention page.





To evaluate your invention, we will need your invention disclosure, relevant manuscripts, experimental data and/or poster presentations. Our office will perform a patent search and a literature search to determine novelty, conduct market research to determine commercial viability, and identify potential licensing partners.



IP Protection


If your invention is patentable, we will work with you to file a patent application. We will also help you define your invention as a patent, copyright, trademark or trade secret. During this phase, we work with patent lawyers and cover the cost of filing your patent application (typically $8,000-$10,000).  Please visit our Understanding Patents page to learn more about patent types, application types and common patent terms.





Once your patent application is filed, our office will conduct market research and identify companies and entrepreneurs that can help bring the invention to market. During this period, it’s important that you are available and willing to meet with prospective licensees to explain your invention. Sometimes it can take months or even years to identify licensees.





Licensing is the foundation of TCO's relationship with companies. A license provides rights for a company to use GW-owned intellectual property for commercial purposes in exchange for various forms of remuneration, without relinquishing ownership of the GW invention. GW may grant an exclusive or a non-exclusive license, depending on the company's needs. In both cases, GW retains the right to use and develop the invention for research purposes. Under the licensing agreement, the licensee commits to bringing the technology and products to the marketplace. Visit our Licensing Process page to learn the steps involved.  





The company that licensed the technology invests in developing it into a product and/or service for the market. Getting to market can include technical development, business model development, regulatory approvals, manufacturing, financing, marketing and sales, training, and other activities. Licensing revenues received by GW are distributed to inventors, as well as to their departments and schools. These revenues can fund additional research and encourage further participation in the technology commercialization process. Other licensing revenues are reinvested in advancing research and development of GW inventions by the TCO.

TCO helps you through all the steps of the technology commercialization process. Your responsibility throughout the whole process is to continue to update our office on the progress of your research.


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GW Policies

Learn the university’s policies governing IP ownership and management.