Staff Invention Disclosure

Why Disclose Your Technology?

Invention disclosure is the critical first step in making sure your innovative technology gets the broadest possible use and application. Your disclosure lets us:

  • know your technology exists;
  • understand what it does and how it might be used;
  • know if it is mission-critical and if the intellectual property should be protected or not;
  • provide you with recommendations for the best approach and steps to getting your technology used; and, if applicable,
  • provide a public summary of your technology for the NOAA Technology Marketplace.

The few hours you invest now will return many dividends in the future as your innovative technology moves out of your lab and into broader use.

What Should I Disclose?

You should disclose anything (hardware, software, or process) you create from scratch or from existing parts, while you are on the job. If you are unsure, send us an email at and we will give you an opinion.

Other than your time to prepare a disclosure form and get it signed by your manager, there is no cost to you or the Lab/Center and this process will not limit your ability to use your technology.

Printed Optical Spectrometer (POPS) Circuit board.
Printed Optical Spectrometer (POPS) Circuit board developed at NOAA's Chemical Sciences Laboratory. CREDIT: NOAA

Getting Started

It is critical to disclose your technology as soon as you have the idea well formulated and before you have had any public conversations regarding the technology. Once you disclose your idea publicly, you have already lost some of your rights. You do not need to have a working prototype built in order to disclose a technology!

Here are the key steps to follow as soon as your idea has come together:

  • Identify who had the original idea and when and then note that in your files.
  • Identify who is on the development team and their roll.
  • Request non-feds sign the Commerce Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
  • Document the key technical aspects of the technology and how it will or could be used.
    • How does it work?
    • What is its value/utility to the field of study?
    • Does a similar technology already exist?  If yes, how is this different?
  • Fill out the NOAA Invention Disclosure form and return it along with your summary document to this office.