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A note from the Senior Deputy Director: Diversity within Intellectual Property

Dear colleagues,

While the theme and concept of “diversity” can be applied to many areas (e.g., cultural, biological, religious, etc.), one area that it has a significant impact is innovation. For those who have developed products and services, they know that a diversified population will test the capabilities – and the limits – of those products and services. To a lesser degree, intellectual property is also diverse in nature depending on the innovation to which it is applied.

Intellectual property (“IP”) is the asset class by which an innovation is driven, and, depending on the nature of the innovation, the IP category may be driven by the discipline. The innovators who create copyrightable works are many times referred to as “authors” or “creators” while patentable works are developed by “inventors.”

For quick reference, here is a summary that you may find useful in categorizing the diversified areas of IP. (Note: The types of rights granted for each form of IP also differs amongst the categories.)

  • Patents
    • Protects new embodiments of useful ideas, plants, and designs
    • Term: ~20 years from earliest filing of an application
    • Rights: Make, use, or sell
  • Copyrights
    • Protects original works of authorship embodied in a tangible medium of expression
    • Term (normally): life of the author plus 70 years
    • Rights: Reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or make derivative works
  • Trademarks
    • Protects marks that identify the source of goods or services
    • Term: as long as the mark is used in commerce
    • Rights: distinguishes a product or service from others
  • Trade Secrets
    • Protects commercially valuable, protected information
    • Term: as long as info remains secret and valuable in fact

At CURF, we are working to create diversity in the intellectual property that is being disclosed at Clemson. We have had the opportunity to not only help inventors obtain patents, but also to secure copyrights and other forms of protection for several innovations. As you work on your research, please remember that we stand at the ready to assist you with developing and protecting your technology. For more information on the areas of IP that CURF handles, contact curf@clemson.edu. To disclose an invention, visit https://curf.clemson.edu/innovators/.



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