What is IP?

Intellectual Property (IP) is a creation of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

The Office of Technology Transfer helps protect intellectual property for UCF faculty and staff. Please contact our office to find out how.

On this page:

Types of Intellectual Property

Important IP Laws

Protect Intellectual Property


Types of Intellectual Property

There are four types of intellectual property: patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. It is important to note that rights to each one of these four forms are all granted under separate laws. A patent protects an invention. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work. A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. Trade Secrets generally protect particular types of confidential information from which the owner derives value based on its secrecy.


A patent granted by the U.S. Government “exclude[s] others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the U.S. or importing the invention into the U.S.” for a limited time.

Patents provide rights up to 20 years for inventions in three broad categories:
Utility: New and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. A new use for an existing technology is also patentable.
Design: New, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
Plant: Asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

To be patentable, the invention or discovery must possess the following attributes:
Utility: Must be useful; i.e., it has a real-world application.
Novelty: Must be new, i.e., the exact same thing must not have existed or been done before.
Non-Obviousness: Must be different enough that the average worker in the field would not have come up with the new invention from what was already known.

The patent explanations given above are taken directly from the USPTO website.



Copyright protection is automatic upon creation of an original work, and is the grant of protection by the laws of the U.S. to the authors of ‘original works’ to protect the property of the creator against unauthorized copying/derivative use.  A copyright is available for both published and unpublished works, but registration prior to publication provides beneficial rights. Examples of works covered under copyright protection include literary, musical, software, dramatic choreography, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, audiovisual, and architectural works. In certain circumstances, the business method or specific application of software may also be protected by a patent. Copyrights are good for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.

Copyright Notice
Whether a work is registered or not, it is important to include a copyright notice on your work:

      • © or the word “copyright”
      • First year of publication
      • Name of owner or institution

Example: © 2012 John Doe. All rights reserved.

For more information visit the United State Copyright Office.



A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. A trademark is generally any word, name, symbol, device, sounds, colors, or any combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others that distinguish goods and services. The mark can continue for the life of a business, renewable every 10 years, and is transferable. It can last forever.  A trademark prevents others from using similar marks.

UCF Example Trademark

™ Non-registered rights (state law)
® is ONLY for a registered mark

Trademark UCF Stands for Opportunity

For more information, review the Basic Facts About Trademarks booklet produced by United States Patent and Trademark Office.


Trade Secrets

A Trade Secret is information that companies keep secret to give them an advantage over their competitors. They key to this form of intellectual property is keeping it a secret. Therefore, there are no documents filed with the government or institution reporting this IP. There are very specific steps that must be taken and documented, however, to allow for Trade Secret enforcement.


International Protection

The rights granted by a U.S. patent and trademark extend only throughout the territory of the United States and are not enforceable in a foreign country. However, an inventor who wishes patent and trademark protection in other countries may apply for a patent and trademark abroad and gain credit for a U.S. filing date in other countries or through regional patent or trademark programs, such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid Protocol for trademarks.

Important IP Laws

Intellectual property law originated with the founding of the U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states:

“Congress shall have the power to… promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”


Bayh-Dole Act

The Bayh-Dole Act was adopted in 1980 and allows U.S. universities, small businesses, and non-profits to own IP resulting from federal funding.

Leahy-Smith America Invents Act

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act was signed into law on September 16, 2011. This act updates our patent system and implements a first-inventor-to-file standard for patent approval. Now, filing dates, not discovery dates, determine inventorship.

Data Rights under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)

FAR covers the process through which the federal government and its agencies purchased goods and services. The FAR sections referenced below address the inventor’s rights to data that is “produced, furnished, acquired or specifically used in meeting contract performance requirements” with the government and / or a federal agency. In regards to data rights, “data means recorded information, regardless of form in the media on which it may be recorded […] include[ing] technical data and computer software.” FAR 27.401 and 52.227-14

Protect Intellectual Property

It is important to carefully protect intellectual property, or what could become intellectual property, from walking out of the door and from inadvertently damaging potential rights or protection. Consider the following actions to protect intellectual property.

Employee Agreements
    • Execute Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to control the sharing of confidential information
    • Execute non-compete agreements with employees to control post-employment solicitations of other employees and other damaging competitive actions
    • Assign rights of all work, inventions, etc. to institution (UCF)
Limit and Track Access to Proprietary Information
    • Identify and label all confidential information
    • Secure information and have a clear employee policy
    • Have visitors sign-in and escort in confidential areas
    • Limit information to public-approve all publications, website content, presentation materials, etc.
Provide Notice of Rights
Inform the public that the invention, work, or brand is protected by including the appropriate notice.
    • ©
    • Patent Pending
    • ®
Other Important Considerations

Record Keeping Procedures
Use a notebook with sewn binding, rather than a spiral-bound notebook or loose leaf paper, to record your notes and experiments related to your research.

For a patent there are different rules in different countries relative to public disclosure. Public disclosures includes publication, either in print or on the internet, presentations at professional society meetings, technical discussions, casual or formal, with colleagues from other institutions or from companies. In the US, a patent application can be filed up to one year after public disclosure. In most other countries, however, once a technology is disclosed it cannot be patented.

Once a patent has been filed, publications about the technology are usually beneficial to generate interest; however there are some cases where certain kinds of information should be revealed in only general ways. OTT will assist any inventor with this issue to avoid compromising an inventor’s obligation to publish. Copyright to software exists the moment the code is “affixed to tangible media,” thus it presents far fewer publication issues. It is UCF’s policy to protect the traditional rights of scholars to control the products of their scholarly work.

Why Does UCF Want to Protect Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property contributes to:
  • Social, cultural, and economic development
  • Driving industrial growth
  • Raising living standard
  • Protecting key technology
  • Creating a barrier to others
  • Generating value
  • Incentivizing commercialization
The current and future impacts of IP terms to UCF and the Principle Investigator (PI) include:
  • Future research
  • Funding
  • Collaboration
  • Publications
  • Graduate students

UCF Regulations and Policies

  • UCF-2.029 Patents, Trademarks and Trade Secrets
  • UCF-2.033 Copyrights and Works
  • 2-207.1 Licensing and Use of University-owned Copyrighted Materials and Trademarks

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