For Inventors


Inventors Handbook Presentation1 : Inventor's Handbook Presentation (PPTX,2 MB)

How do I get an IP agreement?

Contact the OTC. We will help you to determine what type of agreement is necessary. We have a set of templates that have already been approved to help the process along.

Often Sponsors will have their own templates. The agreement should be forwarded to OTC as soon as it is available. We will review the agreement and negotiate any problematic terms and conditions.

After all parties come to agreement, agreed upon changes are made and the agreement is forwarded to the appropriate sponsor representatives for signature.

ONLY the President of the university, Vice Presidents, and those with written delegated authority may sign contracts, including IP agreements.  Dr. Bill Covington and Scott Erwin may sign most contracts and agreements.

After all signatures are received, accounts are set up as needed and the project may commence.

Types of Intellectual Property


Copyright applies to works set down in tangible form. It can be a manuscript, choreography reduced to appropriate notation, a painting, sculpture, a text book, software, etc. To ensure protection, the copyright should be registered with the Library of Congress Copyright Office.


Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in commerce.

Trade Secret

A trade secret may be any form of intellectual property that is kept secret for competitive business reasons. Trade secrets may only be protected as long as they remain secret. Because university work is done for public benefit, it is rare for a trade secret to be maintained.


A patent is a property right granted by the US government that allows the owner to exclude others from using, making or offering the patented design, process or utility for sale. Patents are applied for a limited time, typically 20 years, and require public disclosure of the information.

A patent must be filed within 1 year of first public disclosure and pass the "obviousness" test. A patent may not be granted for applications that would be an obvious step or improvement for someone skilled in the art.

Patents can be filed for invention designs, processes or utilities (novel use). Typically, software is not patentable.

University patent policy can be found in the TSUS Regents Rules, Section III, 10.1-6, 11.1-18.

Mask Works

The United States Code (USC) defines a mask work as "a series of related images, however fixed or encoded, having or representing the predetermined, three-dimensional pattern of metallic, insulating, or semiconductor material present or removed from the layers of a semiconductor chip product, and in which the relation of the images to one another is such that each image has the pattern of the surface of one form of the semiconductor chip product" (17 USC § 901 (a) (2).

Licensing Process for Inventors(2) : Licensing Process (PDF,231 KB)