Intellectual Property Committee
July, 1999 - June, 2000 Annual Report

Change in the Committee Name
The name of the Patent and Copyright Committee has been changed to the Intellectual Property Committee (IPC). This change was approved by the faculty at the April 29, 1999 General Faculty Meeting and by the Board of Trustees at their winter, 2000 meeting.

Purpose and Procedures
The Faculty Manual stipulates that disclosures should be submitted by any faculty, staff, student, or employee of the University who "has a new invention, e.g., discovery, computer program, process, method, use or combination, whether patentable or not, or a University-commissioned copyrightable work" to the chair of this committee via the Intellectual Property Management Office. The disclosure process protects the intellectual property of the individual by establishing a time frame for ownership. The Committee makes a recommendation to the Provost about the category and equity distribution for each disclosure as set out in the Faculty manual. The IPC attempts to ensure that intellectual property rights of the faculty, students, and staff are adequately protected and fairly compensated and also that the University is adequately compensated for the resources invested in infrastructure and personnel. Since most inventions are presumed to have commercial potential, the IPC went into executive session while the inventors presented the factual details of their discoveries, so that these sensitive details are protected from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

Committee Membership, 1999-2000
The Committee experienced a few changes to its appointed membership over the course of the year (Table 1). Richard Cox was appointed Director of the Intellectual Property Management Office (IPMO; formerly the Office of Technology Transfer) on July 1st, 2000. The Director, or an appointed representative of the IPMO office, serves as a voting member of the Committee.

Table 1. Intellectual Property Committee Members, 1999-2000

Elected members (final year of term):

L. Allan James, Geography, Chair (2000)
Arthur Cohen, Geological Sciences (2000)
Tamir Datta, Physics and Astronomy (2002)
Victor Giurgiutiu, Mechanical Engineering (2001; Chair-elect)
Stephen McNeill, Mechanical Engineering (2002)
Louis Terracio, Medicine (2001)

Appointed members:
Dan Antion, IPMO (retired April 2000)
Richard Cox, Director IPO (began July 2000)
George Lampl, Legal; Office of the Legal Council (appointed - Feb., 2000)
Ardis Savory, SPAR

Committee Activities
Disclosures Processed.
The Committee met monthly from July, 1999 through June, 2000 to discuss disclosures by faculty, students, and staff of the University of South Carolina. The IPC dealt with 38 disclosures during this time from ten departments. Most were from inventors on the Columbia campus, although one disclosure was submitted from USC, Aiken. This is the largest number of disclosures submitted in any given year, and represents an almost three-fold increase over the last six years (Table 2). This growth reflects the success of a concerted effort by the IPC and the IPMO to encourage inventors to present disclosures at an early stage of concept inception.

Table 2. Annual Number of Disclosures Since 1995. (Source: Office of the Faculty Senate web page - http://www.sc.edu/faculty/ * 1997 approximated from 1998 statement)

Year ending Number of Disclosures
2000 38
1999 27
1998 19
1997 27*
1996 17
1995 13

The IPC made recommendations to the Provost about the category of ownership and equity distribution of each disclosure as prescribed by the Faculty Manual. The Provost accepted the recommendation of the IPC in every case and there were no formal appeals of the Provostís designations. In some instances, the recommendations of the IPC with regard to category of ownership or to equity distribution did not fully agree with the requests of the inventors. In these cases the Committee carefully considered the nature and the extent of involvement of University resources when distinguishing between claims for Category 1 (developed without significant involvement of University resources) and Category 2 or 3 (developed with involvement of significant University resources) status.

Simplification of the Disclosure-Review Process. Given the rapid growth in the number of disclosures, it has become clear that a substantial amount of time was being devoted to personal interviews with inventors. These meetings are time consuming and difficult to coordinate for both committee members and inventors alike. Requiring interviews at monthly IPC meetings also delays disclosure processing which is potentially harmful since early patent protection is important. To streamline the review process, personal interviews are no longer being required in many cases where University participation (Category 2 or 3) and standard equity (60% USC; 40% inventors) are not in question. To facilitate this determination during pre-screening of disclosures, a new pair of questions was added to the disclosure form asking inventors to identify what they believe to be the proper category and equity for their inventions.

IPMO Web-site Enhancements. The IPMO web page ( http://www.sc.edu/ott/ ) has been developed to encourage early disclosures and to streamline the disclosure process. On-line information explains the purpose and procedures, provides links to faculty, staff, relevant sites, and materials including copies of the disclosure form.

The Committee will continue to act as an advocate for all University employees while addressing intellectual property under the leadership of the next committee chair, Victor Giurgiutiu.

Respectfully submitted,
L. Allan James, Chair