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Thesis Publication Embargo to Protect Intellectual Property Rights

Obtaining a patent on an invention requires that the invention not be publicly disclosed anywhere else in the world prior to filing a patent application. Any public disclosure prior to filing a patent application will prevent patenting in countries around the world, with the exception of the United States. The U.S. has a one-year grace period for filing a patent application after an inventor’s publication is made public. Even though the U.S. has a grace period, best practices is to have a patent application filed prior to publicly disclosing your invention.

Currently, all master’s and doctoral students at UNM must submit their theses and dissertations to Graduate Studies electronically for filing in UNM Library’s electronic, open-access database (UNM Digital Repository- https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/), where their work is accessible to internet search engines. Open access allows scholars and researchers around the world to access the results of submitted research and scholarship with the click of a button.

For theses or dissertations that disclose potentially patentable subject matter or is part of an invention disclosure to UNM Rainforest Innovations, an embargo on publishing is highly recommended. A published thesis or dissertation can prevent patenting of the invention in the U.S. if it is published more than a year from the filing of a patent application. In addition, it could be used as prior art against future patent applications. The embargo allows for restricting public-wide access to the UNM Digital Repository for a period of two years. While embargoed, the manuscript is still available within the University of New Mexico academic community for satisfying the program degree requirement.

In order to get approval for delaying the release of your electronically submitted thesis or dissertation into open access, a petition can be submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies for approval. The form can be found at the following link: https://grad.unm.edu/resources/gs-forms/documents/embargo.pdf. The embargo petition must be submitted at the same time the Announcement of Examination form is submitted and at least two weeks prior to your thesis or dissertation defense. An additional two-year embargo can be petitioned if it is received three months prior to the expiration date of the original embargo. Please discuss with your advisor and committee chair to determine whether an embargo is appropriate for you. For more information on the embargo process, please go to https://grad.unm.edu/resources/gs-forms/etd-embargo.html.