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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.

~World Intellectual Property Organization


Patents

A patent is a right granted that prevents others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without their permission. Eligible patent subject matter must be useful, novel and non-obvious.

 

Typically, US utility patents have a 20 year term, while US design patents have a 14 year term.

 

 

Due to the complexity and unpredictable nature of patent filings and prosecution it is difficult to estimate the lifetime patent costs. 

>$$,$$$

 

 

 

The term “otherwise available to the public” refers to other types of disclosures of the claimed invention such as, for example, an oral presentation at a scientific meeting, a demonstration at a trade show, a lecture or speech, a statement made on a radio talk show, a YouTube™ video, or a website or other on-line material.

In the US, an exception may apply to a “disclosure made 1 year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention,” but only if “the disclosure was made by the inventor or joint inventor or by another who obtained the subject matter disclosed from the inventor or a joint inventor.”

~United States Patent and Trademark Office

 

Definitions from USPTO.Gov

Design Patents: Patents that may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

First-to-File: On March 18, 2013, the United States implemented one of the components of the America Invents Act (AIA) by adopting a "first-inventor-to-file" patent system.

Non-Obviousness: Even if the subject matter sought to be patented is not exactly shown by the prior art, and involves one or more differences over the most nearly similar thing already known, a patent may still be refused if the differences would be obvious. The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before that it may be said to be non-obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention.

Novel: In order for an invention to be patentable it must be new as defined in the patent law, which provides that an invention cannot be patented if:

“(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention” or “(2) the claimed invention was described in a patent issued [by the U.S.] or in an application for patent published or deemed published [by the U.S.], in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.”

Patent Infringement: Patent infringement is the act of making, using, selling, or offering to sell a patented invention, or importing into the United States a product covered by a claim of a patent without the permission of the patent owner.

Plant Patents: Patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovered and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

Useful: The term “useful” in this connection refers to the condition that the subject matter has a useful purpose and also includes operativeness, that is, a machine which will not operate to perform the intended purpose would not be called useful, and therefore would not be granted a patent.

Utility Patents: Patents that 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.

 

East Carolina University Resources

Office of Technology Transfer

External Resources

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Copyright

Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.

 

US Copyright Duration is the Author's Death + 70 years

 

US Copyright Registration Cost: $$-$$$

 

A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”. ~Copyright.Gov

 

Definitions from Copyright.Gov

Created: A work is “created” when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time; where a work is prepared over a period of time, the portion of it that has been fixed at any particular time constitutes the work as of that time, and where the work has been prepared in different versions, each version constitutes a separate work.


Fair Use: Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances.

Fixed: A work is “fixed” in a tangible medium of expression when its embodiment in a copy or phonorecord, by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration. A work consisting of sounds, images, or both, that are being transmitted, is “fixed” for purposes of this title if a fixation of the work is being made simultaneously with its transmission.

Work For Hire: A “work made for hire” is—

(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or

(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. For the purpose of the foregoing sentence, a “supplementary work” is a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes, and an “instructional text” is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities.

 

East Carolina University Resources

Office of Technology Transfer

ECU Copyright Officer

External Resources

Copyright.Gov

Trademark

A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others.


 

US trademark protection has no set duration, but registration can expire if not renewed at specific intervals.

 

Initial US Trademark Costs for Registering: $$$-$$$$

 

The USPTO examines every application for compliance with federal law and rules. The most common reason to refuse registration is a “likelihood of confusion” between the mark of the applicant and a mark already registered or in a prior-filed pending application owned by another party. The USPTO determines that a likelihood of confusion exists when both (1) the marks are similar, and (2) the goods and/or services of the parties are related such that consumers would mistakenly believe they come from the same source. Similar marks or related goods/services by themselves are not enough to support a finding of a likelihood of confusion, unless a court has held that the mark is actually a famous mark. That is, generally two identical marks can co-exist,so long as the goods and services are not related.

~United States Patent and Trademark Office

 

Definitions from USPTO.Gov

Goods: Goods are products, such as bicycles or candles.

Intent-to-Use: If you have not yet used the mark but plan to do so in the future, you may file based on a good faith or bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce. A bona fide intent to use the mark is more than an idea and less than market ready. For example, having a business plan, creating sample products, or performing other initial business activities may reflect a bona fide intent to use the mark.

Services: Services are activities performed for the benefit of someone else, such as bicycle rental services or catering.

 

Use-In-Commerce Basis: For applications filed under the use-in-commerce basis, you must be using the mark in the sale or transport of goods or the rendering of services in “interstate” commerce between more than one state or U.S. territory, or in commerce between the U.S. and another country. For goods, the mark must appear on the goods (e.g., tags or labels), the container for the goods, or displays associated with the goods. For services, the mark must be used in the sale or advertising of the services.