Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks

The Office of Technology Licensing works with hundreds of researchers every year to assist them in protecting their intellectual property by filing patents. With a patent, you can prevent others from making, using or selling your invention for a certain time period unless they have your permission. Patent protection is vitally important to finding a commercial partner willing to invest in getting your discovery from the lab to the market. OTL licensing associates work with law firms to manage the patent prosecution process.

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States" for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

There are three types of patents:

  • Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
  • Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and
  • Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

Learn about the patent process.

A copyright protect works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed. The Library of Congress registers copyrights which last for the life of the author plus 70 years.

A trademark protects words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in commerce.