iEdison Header
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning iEdison

    Contents

  1. What is the Federal mandate that requires an extramural invention tracking system?
  2. How has this tracking been done until now?
  3. What are the general features of the electronic tracking system?
  4. Is use of the Interagency Edison system mandatory for all grantee and contractor organizations?
  5. What are the system requirements and any additional costs involved in using Interagency Edison?
  6. How is relevant information entered into the database by each grantee and contractor organization?
  7. How is information kept confidential? What security features have been incorporated into the tracking system?
  8. What data entry options are available for grantee and contractor organizations that already have invention, patent, and licensing data on an electronic database?
  9. How does the information that is included in the iEdison report compare with what grantee and contractor organizations report via hard copy?
  10. Is data entry into all the fields required?
  11. What help features have been included in the system to anticipate questions that come up during an on-line session?
  12. Are additional training manuals or outreach efforts planned?
  13. How extensive is the use of iEdison?
  14. How has the iEdison system been made available to other Federal research agencies?
  15. What is a DUNS number?
  16. How can grantee and contractor organizations get additional information about the iEdison system?
    F.A.Q.

  1. Q: What is the Federal mandate that requires an extramural invention tracking system?

    A: New provisions to the Code of Federal Regulations came with the enactment of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. These provisions (CFR) stipulated the need for all grantees or contractors to report on activities involving the disposition of certain intellectual property rights that result from Federally funded research (37CFR Part 401). With the growing emphasis that is being placed on technology transfer; it is now common for universities and research organizations to have offices devoted to transfer of research results to the commercial sector, in addition to fulfilling government-reporting requirements contained in 37CFR Part 401.14. The reporting requirements contained in the federal regulations, suggest the value of a system that ensures timely communication at all points along a time frame that can last 20 years from filing a patent application to the expiration of a corresponding patent. Any system designed to track the reporting of such inventions should be designed consistent with reporting requirements defined under law, promulgated in the form of regulations by the Department of Commerce, and implemented by Federal agencies. A second objective realized by such a system is the effective dissemination of relevant information from agencies to their grantee or contractor organizations regarding recently enacted or proposed legislation and policy that may impinge on the grantee or contractor organization's invention development activities. Interagency Edison has been designed, developed, and implemented to enable grantee and contractor organizations to directly input their invention data as well as update information in real time on a fully interactive basis.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  2. Q: How has this tracking been done until now?

    A: Since before the inception of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, until iEdison was deployed in 1995, information had been sent to cognizant federal agencies via hard copy. Staff at the various agencies were responsible for maintained paper-based systems for tracking. Edison was first deployed in 1995 for the benefit of the NIH, and, in 1997, with the addition of the NSF and USAID, came the introduction of Interagency Edison (iEdison). Through the iEdison single user interface, inventions supported by any of these three agencies could be reported electronically. The data is partitioned within the single iEdison database so that each agency can oversee their invention reports. Since 1997, iEdison has grown to where now approximately 500 grantee or contractor organizations are registered and using the system, and inventions supported by any of 18 federal agencies can be reported through the iEdison system.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  3. Q: What are the general features of the electronic tracking system?

    A: To attain both goals as set forth above, iEdison has been designed, to receive, store, track, sort and generate reports of information submitted by grantee and contractor organizations regarding inventions and patents that have resulted from extramural grant and/or contract funding. This system has now been re-written in a new technology that provides additional functionality to its users.

    The iEdison system allows:

    • Both agency staff, grantee and contractor organizations to access real-time invention/patent information.
    • Only authorized users to gain access to records for their grantee or contractor organizations.
    • Users to add/modify existing data and query the database to generate reports.
    • Users to view a graphical representation of an invention and its related patents.
    • Users to upload all aspects of the invention and patent reports electronically: no paper submissions are required.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  4. Q: Is use of the Interagency Edison system mandatory for all grantee and contractor organizations?

    A: Grantee and contractor organizations are formally obligated only to meet the mandated reporting requirements stated in 37CFR Part 401.14. When the legislation was enacted, electronic transmission of information was not considered. In 1995, the Department of Commerce announced an interim rule in the Federal Register (Vol. 60 No. 156) allowing for the electronic submission of subject inventions to agencies. The use of Interagency Edison, however, is not mandatory for inventions and patents developed under federal funding agreements. The popularity of iEdison reflects a new era in research administration. It is in this spirit that Interagency Edison includes features that streamline administrational tasks for both federal and grantee and contractor organization staffs. The time and resources involved in preparing hard copy documents for submission is obviated by employment of Interagency Edison. The ability to rely on such a system for timely reminders of reporting, as well as to plan and generate reports that can be used by the grantee or contractor organization for in house administrational activities, further warrants consideration of Interagency Edison. While additional effort on the part of the grantee or contractor organizations are necessary to become conversant with this electronic medium, the success of iEdison supports the positive returns realized.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  5. Q: What are the system requirements and any additional costs involved in using Interagency Edison?

    A: Access to Interagency Edison by the grantee or contractor organization requires only a browser connected to the Internet. The interface can reside on either Microsoft Windows(R)-capable personal computer or a Macintosh(R). Security measures included in the Interagency Edison system provide for full encryption of the grantee and contractor organization's information as it is being transmitted across the Internet.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  6. Q: How is relevant information entered into the database by each grantee and contractor organization?

    A: Data is entered into this database via three input forms. Once connected to the system, a user accesses a login area that permits, with proper username and password, access to all records from their grantee or contractor organization. Options on such a screen permit addition of new information or modification of existing information on one or more form screens. Each form contains information relating to one of three different groups of data. These groups are:

    1. Information relating to inventions disclosed by the grantee or contractor organization to its reporting agency,
    2. Patent data, and
    3. Invention utilization data.

    In addition, the following functionality is provided:

    • A graphical presentation of the relationship between inventions and patents
    • Several query screens to help quickly locate the information to be reviewed/modified
    • Ability to upload binary documents (PDF or TIFF images) that describe the invention (the so-called invention disclosure), the confirmatory license, and the government support clause portion of the patent. Once uploaded, the user can view documents submitted along with invention report and patent records
    • Verification screens that provide the user with the opportunity to review data prior to submission to the database, as well as present formal reminders of obligations of the grantee and contractor organizations under the law with regard to the reporting of inventions, patents and invention utilization.
    • A message notification screen is also resident in the system to remind federal staff and the grantee and contractor organization of upcoming deadlines for a particular invention report that follow from the provisions of 37CFR Part 401.14.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  7. Q: How is information kept confidential? What security features have been incorporated into the tracking system?

    A: Security and confidentiality of the invention reports are seen as paramount in the value of iEdison. Accordingly, a multi-tiered security system has been incorporated that provides for a number of different levels of security at each stage of data input. Each grantee and contractor organization is able to access their records only after completion of an authentication process requiring username and password.

    All users (federal and extramural grantee or contractors) are required to log onto Interagency Edison. When a grantee or contractor organization attempts to access Interagency Edison, the identifiers are compared to the values in an authorization table that resides within the database server. Access is denied unless all values are correct. Information transmitted on the Internet is encrypted.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  8. Q: What data entry options are available for grantee and contractor organizations that already have invention, patent, and licensing data on an electronic database?

    A: Exclusive of the Internet-based browser access, a secondary mode of access is also available to serve grantee and contractor organizations with database systems in place. Without this capacity, such institutions would be faced with re-keying data. iEdison includes software that enables grantee and contractor organizations to send information to the Interagency Edison system via bulk, computer-to-computer transmission One part of the iEdison site provides information for grantee and contractor organizations who wish to consider this type of transaction, see: "Special Instructions for Organizations that have Large Databases."

    Also several third party vendors who market intellectual property software now offer a feature that allows for the automatic submission to iEdison of records created in their software package.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  9. Q: How does the information that is included in the iEdison report compare with what grantee and contractor organizations report via hard copy?

    A: In defining the type and extent of information requested from grantee and contractor organizations, several sources were considered, including: findings and recommendations from the Office of Inspector General Reports, comments received from the extramural grantee and contractor community, as well as suggestions and comments from representatives of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) and the Council on Government Relations (COGR). The majority of data fields in iEdison are deriving directly from specific provisions of 37CFR Part 401.14. Some fields have been added for several reasons. Time sensitive data fields are included to activate a message notification system that alerts both federal agency staff and the grantee and contractor organizations of impending deadlines inherent in 37CFR Part 401.14. In light of recent Congressional inquiries as to utilization of patented products, the data fields that address utilization have also been expanded.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  10. Q: Is data entry into all the fields required?

    A: To preserve the relational aspects of the Interagency Edison database, entry of data into certain fields is absolutely required. This is the case since such fields provide for the system's unique identifiers (e.g., the Extramural Invention Report (EIR) Number and Invention Docket Number) necessary to maintain integrity of the overall hierarchical structure of a grantee and contractor organization's file. Moreover, input of such information also serves to provide information necessary to trigger the message notification portion of iEdison. Notices are displayed on the screen and/or sent to the grantee and contractor via e-mail to alert of the timely need to submit various items. Without the proper information, e.g. invention report date, or title election date, the notifications will not have any relevant reference time point.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  11. Q: What help features have been included in the system to anticipate questions that come up during an on-line session?

    A: Associated with every data entry screen is a help screen that can be activated on an optional basis. The help screen describes the data fields on the screen (providing a brief explanation as to relevant issues and summarizing the format of data that is required), provides general help instructions for the selected screen, and lists related help topics for the screen in question. In addition, prior to the completion of the on-line session, a confirmation screen is encountered to offer the user the opportunity to review data entries, either on the screen or via a print out. Inherent in this confirmation activity is the review of the most pertinent time sensitive data requirements along with the provisions of 37CFR Part 401.14 that mandate such information.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  12. Q: Are additional training manuals or outreach efforts planned?

    A: iEdison outreach is ongoing. Presentations are routinely given at national meetings, with particular emphasis at tools meetings of the Association of University Technology (AUTM). With the new version of iEdison will likely come a user manual.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  13. Q: How extensive is the use of iEdison?

    A: Pilot testing of the original Edison was completed in spring of 1995. Almost from its initial introduction, the number of grantee and contractor organizations have increased. Today in excess of 500 organizations are registered to report inventions through iEdison. Estimates suggest that this number of organizations represents better than 90% of the organizations that routinely submit Bayh-Dole invention reports. Organizations interested in using Interagency Edison/Edison for invention reporting should review the "Help" section devoted to organization registration that appears on the top of the iEdison home page.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  14. Q: How has the iEdison system been made available to other Federal research agencies?

    A: The iEdison system includes adequate access authorization to limited sets of data, for different agencies. Toward this end, a government-wide network has been put in place via the iEdison system, which controls authorized access, by any research agency of Edison information that pertains to that agency. Therefore, the data fields in iEdison recognize inventions funded by other agencies and participating in iEdison.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  15. Q: What is a DUNS number?

    A: Provided by Dun & Bradstreet, the DUNS number is a nine-digit number that uniquely identifies a business entity.

    Return to FAQ Table of Contents

  16. Q: How can grantee and contractor organizations get additional information about the iEdison system?

    A: Any grantee or contractor organization that is interested in the system, would like to have additional information, or has any questions regarding Interagency Edison, should feel free to contact:

  17. iEdison
     
    Division of Extramural Inventions & Technology Resources (DEITR), OPERA, OER
    National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    6705 Rockledge Drive, Suite 310, MSC 7980
    Bethesda, MD 20892-7980
    Phone: 301-435-1986
    Fax: 301-480-0272
    e-mail: Edison@nih.gov

 

IEDISON- 1010