Researchers should consider the possibility of creating an invention from the very beginning of their research and how to best protect their invention. By focusing on the potential applications of a technology, researchers can take proactive steps to protect and commercialize their inventions through diligent recordkeeping and, of course, contacting CU Innovations. CU Innovations encourages all researchers who believe they have created an invention to contact the office and submit an Invention Disclosure Form or a Copyright Submission Form to have their technology evaluated for potential protection.
Because CU Innovations supports a diverse array of research programs, the office is in a unique position to advise researchers on what type of mechanism and intellectual property tool is appropriate for their invention. Depending on the invention at hand, intellectual property protections are available at varying levels of scope and duration. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are key tools CU Innovations uses to protect inventions made by university researchers.
Patents create 20-year monopolies over an invention, which allow the patent owner to prevent others from making, using, or selling the patented invention without permission. Only certain inventions will fulfill the minimum requirements for patentability according to the US Patent & Trademark Office, and researchers should reach out to the CU Innovations office for an initial assessment. Copyright protection is available for original works of authorship, including commercial works, creative works, textbooks and teaching materials, and scholarly works, and CU Innovations can assist authors with registering copyrights, identifying potential licensees, and negotiating licenses. Even without patents or copyrights, trademarks protect the names of products and services developed by its researchers. Trademarks—the more unique, the better—can be granted at both the state and federal level, and researchers can contact the CU Innovations office to start the process.