Understanding Intellectual Property

The intellectual property (IP) created at Colorado State University can often have useful applications in society. In order to facilitate this transfer of technology, the following legal protections may be considered:


The most common form of legal protection for University intellectual property is the patent. In the United States, a patent gives the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the invention. Ownership does not actually grant an affirmative right to practice the invention, but to keep others from practicing it. If someone wants to practice a patented invention, a license may be given that states the owner of the patent will not enforce its right to exclude them from such use.

There are limits to what types of things can be patented, deadlines for applying for a patent, and options for applying for patent protection in foreign countries, all of which CSU Ventures can review with the inventors once an invention disclosure is submitted.


Authors of original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works have automatic rights to control certain aspects of copying their work once it is fixed into a tangible medium. The Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to conduct and authorize various acts, including reproduction, distribution, public performance, and making derivative works. Registration of a copyright allows the owner to file legal action against an infringer in a U.S. court.

Copyrighted works originated by University Members are subject to various policies, depending on the type of work. For example, although many works flow through the normal process of using CSU Ventures, Members are generally allowed to personally own and control the copyright to textbooks.


Symbols, names, words, and devices (and combinations thereof) that identify and distinguish the source of goods or services are called trademarks. Trademarks, like copyrights, do not need to be registered in order to receive some legal protection. There are benefits to registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, because the owner is given the presumption of entitlement to use the mark for which it is registered.

The University holds registered trademark rights to University related marks, such as the Rams logo: rams_logo


Trademarks may also be created for programs or services on campus as they are developed, and Members should discuss any names or marks being used with their department head and/or CSU Ventures for proper evaluation of use and policies.