Inherently research involves the creation of new ideas, processes, and/or designs. Often these literary, artistic or scientific inventions may have significant commercial value if developed and are generally viewed as intellectual property. In view of their economic value, their inventor has the right to limit access to and use of these materials. Copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets are examples of different legal mechanisms for protecting intellectual property. Today colleges and universities as well as corporations are increasingly concerned about intellectual property and intellectual properties issues such as patents, licensing, and nondisclosure agreements.
This section is intended to provide a primer on this subject focused on primarily on patents, copyrights, and issues related to these forms of intellectual property about which you should be informed as you work on your undergraduate research project. Note that even if you don’t believe you will invent anything as part of your undergraduate research project, it is a good idea to become familiar with your college, university or employer’s policies regarding intellectual property at the outset of your working relationship.