Protecting Intellectual Property

We will work with you to determine the best way to protect your innovation. When assessing the appropriate next steps, we consider: the type of innovation, its current level of development, and your short- and long-term goals. There are a variety of ways to protect you and your work, including:

  •  Patents
  •  Copyrights
  •  Trademarks
  •  Non-disclosure agreements / CDAs
  •  Material transfer agreements (MTAs)
  •  End-user license agreements (EULAs).


Learn more about intellectual property and the agreements we use.

When a patent is appropriate, the process usually begins with a provisional patent application (PPA), which can be filed easily and at a modest price. We work directly with you to draft a written description and file the document in-house. This process can be performed very quickly especially when a draft journal manuscript already exists. However, it’s best to begin at least two weeks before any planned public disclosure to ensure that the PPA is as solid as it should be. See Understanding IP for more information.

Why protect your innovations? While the University’s academic mission includes the public dissemination of information and research results, the University also has a responsibility as a land-grant institution to provide the public and private sectors with tools to succeed in their business. Patents, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property offer a competitive advantage that encourages companies to invest in your idea. Without some form of protection, most companies cannot justify the risk and expense of developing a new product, and your idea will not have the impact that it might otherwise have.

You need protection. The transfer of chemical compounds, biological materials, software, and other research tools can expose you and the University to liability concerns. This is particularly true for open source software, which can be modified by others but continues to be distributed as your work. Whether you intend to provide these materials for a fee or without charge, we can prepare an agreement to keep you and your reputation safe.

Not everything can be patented. Obtaining a patent is an expensive and time-consuming process that can take years. While filing a PPA is an initial step that we are always willing to perform, continuing to pursue a patent requires further actions and much greater expense after one year. Once a PPA is filed, we further assess the market potential of the invention and search for a company interested in licensing it. As the one-year anniversary of the provisional application approaches, we discuss outcomes and options with you, at which time it may or may not be appropriate to continue.