The principal rights governing the ownership and disposition of new technologies and discoveries are known as "intellectual property" (IP) rights, which are derived primarily from legislation and common law granting patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, and integrated circuit mask work protections.
A patent is a grant issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office giving an inventor the right to exclude all others from making, using, or selling the invention within the United States, its territories and possessions, for a period of 20 years from the effective U.S. Filing Date of the patent application. The period of 20 years is exclusive of certain regulatory delays such as those sometimes imposed by the Food and Drug Administration and the patent grant process itself. The US government grants this 20 year limited monopoly protection in exchange for the inventor(s) teaching their discovery to the public, "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts." Further, many people recognize that a modern economy cannot function without intellectual property protections (McMillan,2002. Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets). Patents may also be granted in foreign countries; procedures for filing, regulations for patentability, and term of patent grant vary considerably from country to country.
To be patentable in most countries, an invention must be new, useful, and nonobvious. In the United States, a grace period of 12 months from the first written public disclosure of an invention is allowed to file a patent application. In most foreign countries, an invention is unpatentable unless the application is filed before public disclosure (written or oral). However, if one has filed in the United States prior to disclosure, the applicant has 12 months from the U.S. filing date to file in most non-U.S. countries without losing patent filing rights.
As provided in copyright law, a copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute by sale or otherwise, and display or perform the work publicly. Under federal copyright law, copyright subsists in "original works of authorship: which have been fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or other wise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
For an individual author, copyright protection of a work extends for the author's life plus 70 years. For employers, copyright protection of a work extends for 95 years from the date of publication. In contrast to a patent which protects the reduction to practice of an "idea," copyright covers the "artistic expression" in the particular literary work, musical work, computer program, video or motion picture or sound recording, photograph, sculpture, and so forth, in which the "expression" is embodied, illustrated, or explained, but does not protect the "idea."
Also be aware that dissemination of certain IP and/or research materials may require negotiating material transfer agreements.
OVPR will work together to provide advice on general issues related to patents, copyrights, and commercialization (licensing of technology). The OVPR will conduct an internal evaluation of the IP/Technology Disclosure and, when appropriate, obtain the advice of legal counsel regarding the patentability of the invention. OVPR will usually meet with the inventor(s) as a first step in the evaluation. In some cases, industry feedback is sought as part of the evaluation process. If OVPRagrees that IP protection is appropriate, OVPR will usually provide for legal expenses and subsequent maintenance fees. Finally, the OVPR can assist the inventors in licensing and other commercialization efforts.
The OVPR incurs an ongoing expense and possible legal risks whenever patent applications are filed. Consequently the OVPR is interested in filing patents that are likely to result in revenue to the inventor and the University. This revenue may come in the form of additional research sponsorship, licensing fees, royalties, and possibly equity interest in new companies established using university Intellectual Property.