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5500 - Laboratory Record-Keeping Guidelines


  • Name: Arch Harner
  • Position: Office of Research Assurances Director
  • Email:

Last updated: July 01, 2000

PREAMBLE: This section describes the minimum laboratory record-keeping necessary to the granting of a patent. It was original to the 1979 Handbook and has remained unchanged since. Unless otherwise noted, the text is as of July 1996. For further information, contact the Research Office (208-885-6651). (ed. 7-00)

A. To safeguard the possibility of patenting an invention, the inventors should maintain records of their research work in a fashion that will clearly establish priority dates and adequately describe the invention.

B. Effective protection requires the use of a bound notebook and observance of the following practices (recommended by the Patent Committee of the Idaho Research Foundation and based on a statement issued by the National Association of College and University Business Officers):

B-1. Legibly enter in ink, concurrent with the work on a daily basis, a complete and accurate record of the research activities and sign and date each page below the entered data.

B-2. Whenever possible, preface each series of pages with a brief and generic statement of the work that is to be performed (i.e., statement of problem) rather than what the results are expected to be. Avoid gratuitous conclusions.

B-3. Similarly, when an experiment or run is completed and it represents the reduction to practice of only one or more species, include a paragraph setting forth still other species and parameters of variables and the reasons they are expected to be effective in order later to provide valid basis for a generic claim. This is conveniently included under a "Modifications and Extensions" heading and need not include complete data at that time.

B-4. Faithfully have the work corroborated by having the notebooks witnessed by dated signature of an associate (not a co-worker or collaborator in that particular research area who is or could be a joint inventor). Notation of witness should appear after the last line of an experiment and not necessarily at the bottom of every page. If necessary or desirable, explain in detail the work performed.

B-5. Before destroying any samples, run sheets, or records of any kind, the inventor must make certain that the discards are of no value to the university or to anyone associated with the project.

B-6. Notify the Idaho Research Foundation promptly of any proposed publications (including abstracts) involving patentable inventions in order to preserve property rights in research. (Laws in this country permit the filing of a patent application within one year of public disclosure, but some foreign countries will not accept an application claiming invention for anything already published.)

B-7. Record observations of physical results even if they are not fully appreciated or understood at that time.

B-8. Use the last four or five pages for an index as desired.

B-9. Start a new page for each new experiment and draw a continuous diagonal line through unused portions of pages remaining at the close of an experiment.

B-10. Avoid erasures but, where necessary, cross out entries with a single line; date and initial the changes.

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Campus Locations

Physical Address:
Bruce M. Pitman Center
875 Perimeter Drive MS 4264
Moscow, ID 83844-4264

Phone: 208-885-6111

Fax: 208-885-9119