Market research · Product Market Fit

Can I use someone else's research to make my product?

Neha Jain I have done MTech and currently working in Pune

November 16th, 2017

A university in China published a research paper about a much better, flexible and more efficient solar surface, and as of today, there is no product in the market that uses the methods they described. In order to put together a product using the research I would need to hire a team of engineers, but I think it would be worth it if we could achieve the same results the research shows. How do I know if I'm free to use the research for my own benefit or if it's patented?

Parvez Husein Co-founder and CTO @ Portable Office Company. Exited.

November 16th, 2017

hi neha... you don't know definitively really.

depending on country university research could be covered by intellectual property laws. I'm not sure about China.

you're going to have to find out. the first method is to approach the university and ask them if the technology is covered by intellectual property laws if the answer is yes. then you can ask them to allow you to use the technology. if they refuse you could ask them to grant you licence to use the research. that should cover you.

the second is to get a qualified patent lawyer to's going to be expensive... but if you're serious... it's worth can save you a lot of money in the future... especially if you are deliberately copying aspects of the technology to shorten your R&D cycle.

there are unethical ways as well of using the research... i would say never to take that approach...

hope that helps. :-)

Mustapha Kadabi Managing Director

November 17th, 2017

Yes it's possible if you have ideas that will differentiate your product with the existing product, as I see in my home country if products get in to the market with some additional specifications compared to the one that exists, Its classified as a different product. So what matters is your creativity or modification capacity on the service or product that is already provided by other suppliers/ manufucturers. So the biggest thing is just getting advanced solutions to customers of your product/ services. By concluding whats required is looking at your competitor's problems and do something to solve them, and that will give customers the reason to prefer your products/ services over his. Thanks..

Divya Akash Dutta Author at, self-taught coder, College Student

November 17th, 2017

Neha, I think you should contact the university to know if it's patented. If it's not, still you should at least make an effort to take their permission before using the technology in your product cause, after all, it's their research.

Frank Deluca Chief Imagineer

November 17th, 2017

I would say that once it is publicly reviewed it could be public domain having said that if you are successful I can bet my last dollar there will be a heard of lawyers ready to take a stab at nailing you for using their research.. I would.. LOL

David M

November 17th, 2017

Neha, From an ethical standpoint you need to contact the university. Too much copying in business. Too much greed. This helps no one and does not advance the world or global societies. You may also find that the group in China would value your efforts. If they are interested to work with you, move forward with the legal steps to verify you are in the clear. If they are not interested, you can then move forward with the legals steps and if you are cleared, that is when you can know ethically you reached out, and they passed. You may proceed and know you did not seek to utilize someone else's hard work without first seeking collaboration. Regarding one of the answers about differentiating your product, the answer is incomplete. You can not simply add on to an existing product and therefore be in the clear. You must check if there are existing patents. From there, you can create a patent that advances the design in some manner, but in order for you to use any patented element, you must reach a licensing agreement or be prepared to be sued and lose all credibility in the business world as well as face significant fines. You may end up creating a patent that improves a product, and then license back to the original patent owner as well or reach a collaborative and mutual deal for your advancement.

Rosemary Barasa An adventurer providing solutions for diaspora clients in getting stuff done with integrity

November 17th, 2017

Hi Neha,

This is really encouraging. You need to get in touch with the researchers. They will be able to advise you on the patents. They should also be available to work with you to attain the same results