Introduction to Intellectual Property in Academia 1.1

1.1 Intellectual property issues that are relevant in university settings

With practicality and efficacy being the guiding principles of this volume, we have tried to avoid overloading it with excessive information extraneous to the IP cases actually occurring in academic environment. Hence, rather than meticulously delineating all the exceptions and possible non-standard circumstances, we prefer to focus our attention on a limited number of the most common situations.

First of all, one should distinguish between the main types of intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. To grasp the differences between these IP types one should follow a few straightforward definitions:

Patents are granted to those who invented new or improved devices and materials as well as methods of their use and ways to fabricate them. This book is mostly devoted to the patent practice relevant to the academic environment, and we’ll discuss various aspects of patent filing and prosecution in the following chapters.

Copyright protects the creative or artistic expression of an idea. Copyrights, identified by the symbol ©, do not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed. “Original works of authorship” are protected by copyright law once the author writes them on paper or places them on the drive of the computer. The law today does not require attaching a notice of copyright to the work or registration. We’ll discuss in Chapter 9 some important benefits, which are granted if the author does use the notice or register the work. Nevertheless, the author is the copyright owner even without these formalities.

Trademark (or servicemark) defends distinctive terms, marks, and names that are used in relation to products (or services) as indicators of origin. A trademark and servicemark, identified by the symbols ™ and SM (not yet registered) and ® (registered), is a distinctive sign used to discern the products and/or services to consumers.

Trade secret is some confidential information that is kept secret, which provides advantage over the competitors.

Some of the IP types such as trademarks, servicemarks and trade secrets are tightly linked to product sales, which are out of the scope of university scientists’ activity, and therefore we omit discussion of them in this book.