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Patent & Copyright Information

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Intellectual property (IP) is any work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or design, and can be protected by statute or legislation, such as patent or copyright. It includes inventions, discoveries, know-how, show-how, processes, unique materials, copyrightable works, original data, and other creative or artistic works. IP also includes the physical embodiment of intellectual efforts (e.g., models, machines, devices, apparatus, instrumentation, circuits, computer programs and visualizations, biological materials, chemicals, other compositions of matter, plans, and records of research).

According to the MSU patent policy, the university has the right to own any discovery or invention created using university facilities, equipment, or funds controlled or administered by the university. This IP is an asset that can potentially add great intellectual and/or monetary value to MSU, the creators of the property, and the region. Additionally, MSU is required by state and federal statutes, industrial research agreements, and other research relations to manage the IP that results from the university’s research programs.


MSU Technologies coordinates patent activity for the university. As part of the technology transfer process, our office determines whether to file a patent application for an invention and then manages the application process.

What is a Patent?
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a patent is an intellectual property right granted by the U.S. Government to the inventor to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the U.S. or importing the invention into the U.S.

There are three types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

Learn more about the process for obtaining a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Recent Patent Law Changes
In September 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which more closely aligns U.S. patent practices with those of the rest of the world, was signed into law. Learn more about changes to U.S. patent law and how they affect MSU faculty and researchers.

MSU Patent Policy
MSU seeks to foster the development of its inventions and discoveries through patenting and licensing to industry. MSU’s Patent Policy details the university’s approach to protecting university inventions through patents.

See some of the patents recently issued to MSU.

See the MSU Patent Policy Handbook for Frequently Asked Questions about the Patent Policy.


MSU Technologies manages the marketing and commercialization process for university-owned copyrightable works and negotiates licenses with third parties. University authors should file an invention disclosure form to begin the technology transfer process.

What is Copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, software, artistic, and certain other published and unpublished works that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. No action is required to register copyright.

Learn more at the U.S. Copyright Office website.

MSU Copyright Policy
At MSU, the Copyright Policy, “Development of Copyrighted Materials,” in the Faculty Handbook governs the ownership, use, and licensing of university-owned works. MSU follows standard academic practice in disclaiming ownership of traditional academic works, unless one or more “special circumstances” exist. If one or more of these special circumstances exist, the university retains the ownership of the work. It is also the tradition of the university for eligible university authors to share in third-party licensing revenue.

For more information, read the copyright policy.

Use of Copyrighted Materials
For more information on using materials copyrighted by third parties, including permissions and fair use, visit these resources:

Disclose Your Invention
File an invention disclosure to create a written record of your invention. Prompt disclosure is important to avoid potential loss of patent protection.

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