Intellectual Property

Researchers in both clinical and basic arenas often create innovation, which means improved products, processes, or approaches for an identified job or function. Innovation can create new markets and/or demand.  Intellectual property (IP) rights, including patents and copyrights, enable the creator to benefit from the innovation.

Mount Sinai’s policy is that if you develop IP as a student, trainee, post-doc, fellow, faculty member, or employee of Mount Sinai, or under the supervision of Mount Sinai, that IP is owned by the Mount Sinai Health System.

An inventor, under U.S. law, is a person who makes an original, significant intellectual contribution leading to the conception of the invention. This concept is significantly different than authorship on an academic publication.

Legal Protection

Legally, IP is protected in four ways: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Each form of legal protection is governed by its own body of federal and/or state law. Trade secrets and other ownership legalities are regulated by business law. Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP) can help you learn about protecting your IP.

Public Disclosure

Public disclosure means discussing your invention openly and it can result in your losing your right to patent that invention. Public disclosure includes sharing your IP through journal publications, website publications, and conference presentations. More generally, it is when you make intellectual property publicly available and accessible to those who are skilled in the art to which the invention relates.

To avoid losing your right to patent your IP, your first step in disclosing an invention is to contact MSIP. MSIP assesses your IP to determine whether it has strong commercial potential. If it does, the MSIP manager will help you fill out a Technology Disclosure Form and begin our commercialization process.

Patents and Prior Art

A patent is a legal monopoly that allows you, as the patent holder, to prevent others from making, using, or selling an invention covered by your patent. Patents are granted by governments. Generally, they may be enforced only in the jurisdiction that has granted them.

Prior art is any relevant publication, patent, or event prior to invention that may be considered by the patent office in evaluating patentability of the invention. Anything that has been published, used in public, offered for sale or sold by anyone before the inventor(s) made the invention, may become a part of the prior art for that application.


A copyright grants legal protection to the authors of original works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, architectural, and certain other intellectual works, and is available to protect both published and unpublished works. As an owner, you have the exclusive right to authorize others to reproduce the work; create derivative works; distribute copies of the work; perform the copyrighted work publicly, display the work publicly, and if it is a sound recording, to perform the work publicly.