Patent office seeks student involvement

The Office of Technology Transfer, Licensing and Commercialization is having a hard time making its presence felt on campus. The office is geared toward helping inventions get patented, but a lack of participation has the team frustrated.

“Because of limited staff and the specific administration and management responsibilities required of these types of offices, there has been insufficient time to reach out to all of our clientele,” said Rose Glee, director of the OTTL. “Although widely advertised when workshops, seminars and other presentations are held by this office, very few students attend.”

Glee said the office determines if an invention has already been patented.

“We assist with getting it on the market,” Glee said. “There is a process we go through.”

Glee said the first step of the process is submitting an invention disclosure to the office. A committee reviews the application to determine its patentability. The office submits the approved invention idea to a patent attorney. Then the patent attorney develops a patent application. The application is submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office where the patent is issued or denied.

Glee said each year the numbers of students, faculty and staff patenting inventions varies.

“An average of 30 to 40 disclosures are submitted each fiscal year for consideration by this office by faculty, staff and students,” she said. “This year (2007-2008), it’s going to be approximately 34.”

Glee said students are slowly becoming informed about the office since 2005 when it fully became able to operate in 2005.

“Students have just started coming into the office,” Glee said. “We just had about 12 or 13 admissions. About six of those were students.”         

Glee said the office has tried to publicize itself in different ways.

“We have been going around doing seminars, we’re in the research newsletters, we collaborate with units,” Glee said. “We just finished collaborating with the School of


Emerson Naylor, 26, a senior finance student from Philadelphia, is a student worker at the office. Naylor said within the last two years he worked in the office he has rarely seen students patenting inventions. 

“I don’t see a lot of students inventing things,” Naylor said. “The professors are the main people that come up with inventions.”

Shannon Snelling, an office manager for OTTL, said if faculty, staff and students get patented then it could generate funds for the University just like the University of Florida.

She said UF gets a lot of funding from Gatorade because a faculty member created it.

“We need to find our Gatorade or a product to put FAMU on the map,” Snelling said. “They get funds from that every year.”

Even though many students do not come in the office to get their items patent, Naylor said the School of Business and Industry takes advantage of the office’s resources.           

“SBI has a business competition. Members of the team work in the office,” Naylor said. “I’m in the business plan team. Our team has used technology that comes out of this office to compete.”

Glee said the University gets ownership when students get their invention patented, but the student is listed as the inventor.