At CCI, we are all innovators, and our staff has dozens of patents of their own. We understand the inventor perspective, and also appreciate that the
concepts and nuances associated with the commercialization process are unfamiliar to most of our inventors initially.
That's why we are here to facilitate your involvement and maximize your success at every step. Our experience tells us that there are a few issues and inflection points in which all inventors maintain keen interest, regardless of their depth of exposure to patents, licenses, or company creation. We've organized our Frequently Asked Questions to bring everyone up to speed on some of these critical topics:
If I work with CCI, who controls my IP?
One of the most challenging concepts to describe to a nascent inventor is that of IP control or ownership. For example, you may not be aware that all Staff at Cleveland Clinic abide by the policy stating that the Institution owns our intellectual property related to or associated with the conduct or healthcare or discovery science.
To some, this may seem draconian and unfair to the creative people who are both toiling to help patients directly and solve tomorrow's problems with creative thinking. Frankly, this treatment of IP in the academy, and most of industry, is "standard operating procedure." The reason why so many of your colleagues have engaged in innovation and have enjoyed such personal and professional success as a result is because of the generous inventor distribution policies the Clinic has always maintained; this is a topic for later description.
Regarding control of IP, the process dictates that IP brought to CCI from outside inventors is optimally managed when its rights are assigned to us. If the preliminary assessment of your IP indicates a high degree of commercial promise, we shall require the assignment of your IP to Cleveland Clinic.
What are the ways I can transfer ownership of my IP to Cleveland Clinic so it can be access the CCI process?
There two basic mechanisms by which ownership of IP can be transferred to Cleveland Clinic: 1) Outright legal assignment and 2) Philanthropic donation.
Recently, creative inventor-benefactors collaborated with Cleveland Clinic to introduce a new chapter in commercialization and philanthropy - the donation of IP. The donation can take two forms: 1) Direct donation without expectation of return and 2) "Venture Philanthropy," the donation of IP with the possibility of sharing in commercialization success after certain thresholds or milestones are reached.
The specific conditions and implications of each of these models can be described in detail to our innovative alumni who seek to engage CCI in the development of their IP. However, one admonition guides those of us in this business, "It's better to owner a smaller percentage of something successful rather than all of an unsuccessful endeavor."
What are my costs associated with the commercialization process?
Taking an idea from the "napkin stage" to the marketplace can be an arduous and expensive process. That is why the advent of what has become Cleveland Clinic Innovations started when individual innovators could not advance their own patent portfolio with their personal resources and elected to partner with the Clinic to share in the expense and eventual revenue.
Whether you are a current Staff member or an alumni-inventor, you will not be asked to personally fund ongoing commercialization effort performed through the CCI model.
How do we determine revenue distribution upon commercial success?
Cleveland Clinic has long-maintained one of the most generous inventor distribution policies in all of academic healthcare, with our inventors while returning over $65M to our clinicians, scientists and executives has distinguished Cleveland Clinic Innovations as a leader in benefitting inventors and investors.
Cleveland Clinic policies describe a specific formula for net revenue distribution from either royalty-bearing licenses or the sale of entire spin-out companies. There has never been either a threshold limitation in dollars or a temporal deadline. In developing the Alumni Innovation Initiative, we not only intended to extend the same services to our graduates, but also to recognize that Cleveland Clinic may not have otherwise accessed these creative, commercially-viable advancements. For this reason, the net distribution to our alumni inventors will be a minimum of 40% of net proceeds from commercialization.
To my knowledge, there is no person or organization that doesn't want to be considered "innovative." There an almost infinite number of ways to express creativity, but the one accepted currency that is universally recognized to define the innovative mind is the development of a patented invention. The challenge that limits creative contribution for most of us is not a limited knowledge or experience in our chosen field, it's the time and resources we can dedicate to take our ideas from bedside, or laboratory bench, to the marketplace.
The benefits of inventorship are many and start with the main reason we all dedicated our lives to healing the sick. By design, when we are engaged in clinical practice or research we are entrusted with the care of another human being - there is no greater calling, and thus it demands our full attention.
Innovation is the unique tool that allows us to expand ourselves. While we direct our full attention to the patient in our office, the implant or drug we developed May be helping dozens of patients around the world.
There are other reasons to engage in innovation: to satiate innate inquisitiveness ("innovation for innovation's sake"), professional standing and, of course, remuneration. All of these are valid, but will likely never equate to the solemn satisfaction one gets when they know that something that came from their brain is now in their hands, and the hands of others, improving the lives of others.