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Policy Name: Intellectual Property
Policy No: 4.02
Date Passed: 12/02/1987
Last Reviewed: 11/28/2011
Review Next: November 2014

The Texas Woman's University Policy on Intellectual Property

Part 1-Introduction 

1.0 Intellectual Property and Related Rights

The material set forth in this document covers the ownership, distribution, and commercial development of intellectual property developed by TWU faculty, staff, students, and others participating in TWU programs. The term "intellectual property" is broadly defined in this document to include technical innovations, inventions, and discoveries, as well as writings and other information in various forms including computer software. 

The principal rights governing the ownership and disposition of technology are so-called "intellectual property" rights which are derived primarily from legislation granting patent, copyright, and trademark protection.

In some instances, distribution and commercialization of intellectual property may be accomplished by the transfer or licensing of the intellectual property rights such as patents and copyrights. In other instances, distribution and commercialization of intellectual property may be aided by or depend upon access to the physical or tangible embodiment of the technology, as in the case of biological organisms, plant varieties, or computer software.

This policy will define not only the ownership, distribution, and commercialization rights associated with technology in the form of intellectual property, but will also define policies and procedures which govern the use and distribution of the intellectual property in its tangible form.

1.1 Patents and Patent Rights

A patent is a grant issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office giving an inventor the right to exclude all others from making, using, or selling the invention within the United States, its territories, and its possessions for a period of 17 years from the patent grant. The period of 17 years is exclusive of certain regulatory delays such as those sometimes imposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Patents may also be granted in foreign countries; procedures for filing, regulations for patentability, and term of patent grant vary considerably from country to country.

To be patentable in most countries, an invention must be new, useful, and nonobvious. In the U. S., a grace period of 12 months from the first written public disclosure of an invention is allowed to file a patent application. In most foreign countries, an invention is unpatentable unless the application is filed before public disclosure. However, if one has filed in the U. S. prior to disclosure, the applicant has 12 months to file in most non-U.S. countries without losing filing rights.

In addition to more traditional forms in inventions, the patentability of computer software is well established. Computer software generally will be patentable if it meets the tests of novelty and nonobviousness and if its application is part of a process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter which can be considered for patent protection. A software invention will be automatically disqualified from patent protection only if it is purely a mathematical equation or formula with no other application.

1.2 Copyrights

As provided in copyright law, a copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute by sale or otherwise, and display or perform the work publicly.

Under federal copyright law, copyright subsists in "original works of authorship" which have been fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

For an individual author, copyright protection of a work extends for the author's life plus 50 years. For employers, copyright protection of a work extends for 75 years from the date of publication.

In contrast to a patent which protects the "idea," copyright covers the "artistic expression" in the particular literary work, musical work, computer program, video or motion picture or sound recording, photograph, sculpture, and so forth, in which the "expression" is embodied, illustrated, or explained; copyright does not protect the "idea."

1.3 Trade and Service Marks

A trade or service mark is a work, name, symbol, or device (or any combination) adopted by an organization to identify its goods or services and distinguish them from the goods and services of others. In the U.S., trademark ownership is acquired through the use of a term to identify origin of goods or services. Trade or service mark ownership is not dependent upon federal or state registration, but upon use of the mark. Registration of trade and service marks may be obtained on both the state and federal levels. However, to apply for a federal registration of a mark, it must be used in interstate commerce.

1.4 Tangible Research Property

The term "tangible research property" refers to those research results that are in tangible from as distinct from intangible (or intellectual) property. Examples of tangible research property include integrated circuit ships, computer software, biological organisms, engineering prototypes, engineering drawings, and other property which can be physically distributed.

Although tangible research property may often have intangible property rights associated with it (such as biological organisms which may be patented or computer software which may be either patented or copyrighted), TWU and/or the inventor/author may choose to distribute the research property without securing intellectual property protection by using some form of contractual agreement such as a formal contract, loan agreement, letter of agreement, or user license as further set forth in this document.

page last updated 8/16/2016 11:02 AM