IP Primer - Protection of IP

Intellectual Property can be protected in several different ways, depending upon the type or form in which the IP exists. A traditional invention may be protected by a patent application; an artistic work by a copyright registration, trademark, or industrial design registration; an idea for a cool new circuit by integrated circuit topography legislation, and plant varieties by the plant breeder's legislation.

The following methods, among others, may be used when appropriate to protect IP, each of which is discussed in more detail below: patents, copyright, trademark registration, integrated circuit topography registration, industrial design registration, plant breeder's registration, and trade secret agreements.

- Patents

- Trade Secrets

- Copyright

- Industrial Designs

- Trade Marks

- Plant Breeder Rights

- Integrated Circuit Topographies

An example of the use of different forms of IP protection can assist the reader in understanding the differences between them. Consider a bottle of Coca-cola pop. The written material on the label is protected by copyright, the shape of the bottle by industrial design, the name by a trademark, and the method of capping the bottle by a patent. The recipe for the beverage would most likely be a trade secret.

Transferring IP

The owner of IP may grant rights in the IP to others, either through a transfer of part or all of their ownership interest in the IP (called an "assignment"), or by giving permission to others to use or otherwise deal with the IP (called a "license"). Licenses may be either exclusive (where the person receiving the license is the only one that can use the IP) or non-exclusive (where the grantor retains the right to license the IP to another person). The EDI office is available to assist the University community with the transfer of intellectual property.