Intellectual property (IP) allows the University of Louisville to protect ideas and inventions that come out of research. This process is available for a wide range of disciplines, and can cover everything from a new drug or medical device, to software for measuring employee engagement, to creative works, such as a play, composition or manuscript.
UofL Innovation and Commercialization, within the UofL Office of Research and Innovation, works with researchers to vet and protect these discoveries and ideas. The goal is to commercialize the resulting IP through a startup or industry partner, moving UofL discoveries from mind to the marketplace, where they can contribute to the public good.
The first step in the process is submitting a Research Disclosure Form, or RDF. More information is available here.
Generally, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awards intellectual property for ideas that are both novel and non-obvious. Ideas are "novel" if they are not similar to any previously patented or protected ideas. Ideas are "non-obvious" if someone with experience or expertise would think the idea was unexpected or not already understood.
If you aren't sure if your idea is protectable, submit a Research Disclosure Form and contact UofL Innovation and Commercialization. Staff will work with you to determine if your idea is both novel and non-obvious.
Yes, there are several types of intellectual property. The three types UofL works with most are patents, copyrights and trademarks. Each has its own requirements, costs and timeline. Generally speaking:
- Patents are the most common type of IP resulting from UofL research, and protect processes, inventions and technologies. Examples of patents might include new medications, materials, electrical components. Subtypes of patents we often see include utility patents (the most common, protecting technologies and processes themselves), design patents (protecting the look and design of technologies) and plant patents (protecting newly created hybrids and species of plants).
- Copyrights, which protect the way ideas are expressed, such as through music or the written word, rather than the ideas themselves. Examples might include art, music, books, plays and even back-end code for software and programs.
- Trademarks, which protect things like symbols, names and colors, most often associated with branding. One example is the UofL logo.
Under the UofL IP Policy, faculty and staff are required to disclose ideas that were first discovered, created or reduced to practice during their employment with the university. Students are not required to disclose, however, we are happy to work with them to protect their ideas.
Each type of IP comes with different timelines and costs. However, when protecting UofL-born IP, the university assumes this cost and there is no charge to the inventor, discoverer or creator.
There are many, many benefits of protecting your ideas! These include:
- Recognition and credit for your hard work;
- Helping your ideas spread, become commercialized and benefit the public good; and
- Financial returns, through royalties and other licensing income.
Under the UofL IP Policy, royalties and other income from licensed or optioned inventions are shared between the university and the inventors, discoverers or creators. More information on licensing income distribution is available here.
Of course! Publishing and sharing your work is key to our mission as a university. However, please get in touch with our staff before you plan to publish or present, so we can determine if your idea is protectable.