Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property and Commercialization has many aspects. What follows is a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding product development and commercialization.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP), including patents, copyrights, trademarks/service marks, trade secrets and tangible research property, provides the basis for transforming scientific discoveries into products and services for the public good. Startup and established companies alike use IP to ascertain and protect their market niche, resulting in job creation and economic development advantages. IP owned by Purdue also returns revenue to the inventor and the University through licensing fees. Technology disclosures made to the Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) are recorded and screened through comprehensive processes to determine what IP, if any, exists.

How does Purdue manage IP?

Intellectual property at Purdue is governed by these primary policies:

  • Intellectual Property Policy (I.A.1) — The statement of University policy, principles and administrative procedures relating to the ownership of patents, copyrights and other rights in inventions, as well as written and recorded materials.
    • Patent Policy — Purdue owns the rights to all inventions made in the course of employment by the University or through the use of University resources.
    • Trademark/Service Mark Policy — Purdue owns all rights related to an item of intellectual property or a University program of education, service, public relations, research, or training.
    • Copyright Policy — All rights in copyrightable works remain with the creator unless:
      • The works were created pursuant to the terms of a University agreement with an external party.
      • The works were created as a specific, written requirement of employment or as an assigned University duty.
      • The works created were specifically commissioned by the University.
      • The creator of the copyrightable work made more than incidental use of University resources.
      • The copyrightable work is also patentable and/or is associated with a University trademark.
    • Tangible Research Property Policy — Pertains to perceptible items produced in the course of research. Purdue owns all rights to tangible research property related to an individual's employment responsibilities and/or developed with support from University resources.
  • Policy on Use of Copyrighted Materials for Education and Research Purposes (I.A.3) — The University and its stakeholders share an interest both in the protection of copyrighted works and in the use of copyrighted works in the daily pursuit of learning, discovery and engagement.
  • Policy on Individual Financial Conflicts of Interest (III.B.2)
  • Policy on Conflicts of Commitment and Reportable Outside Activities (III.B.1) 

Who is responsible for managing IP at Purdue?

IP is managed by OTC, the University's Sponsored Program Services and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

OTC handles all patents, copyrights, trademarks and tangible research property issues. Some OTC roles are to:

  • Solicit and analyze invention disclosures from faculty, students and staff
  • Analyze commercialization feasibility of University intellectual property and develop commercialization strategies
  • License tangible research property for commercial use
  • License patents and copyrights for commercial use
  • Facilitate faculty and technology startups
  • Advise faculty on IP issues
  • Foster inventor participation in the commercialization process
  • Educate Purdue researchers about the commercialization process at Purdue

Sponsored Program Services manages all research relationships on behalf of the University and enters into agreements with research sponsors as to how intellectual property developed under a research project will be administered.

The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships manages all conflict of interest issues, including consulting arrangements and faculty-owned business startups. For more information, see faculty-owned and -operated businesses: Policy and Procedures.

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