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Intellectual Property Toolkit

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright, and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.

(Source: World Intellectual Property Organization)

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of  authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works."

Taken from Copyright Basics document available at the U.S. Copyright Office website: -

The information provided on this guide is NOT intended to offer or substitute for legal advice. For assistance in determining issues related to intellectual property rights/copyright, please contact one of the librarians at Nash Library & Student Learning Commons.

  • Copyright law applies to both published and unpublished works. 
  • Works are protected automatically, without copyright registrations
  • Copyright is typically given to creator of a work, unless done for some one or other entity (ex. "works made for hire" or the copyright has been transferred to another (ex. publisher)
  • Copyrighted works can be used with permission from copyright owners.
  • Fair use of a copyrighted work is an infringement of copyright. See the Fair Use tab to learn more in applying the Fair Use factors as a defense for infringement.

What are patents?

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States...
U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. 

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.

(Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Types of Patents

  • Utility patents
  • Design patents
  • Plant patents