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Intellectual Property

Georgia Southern University is dedicated to the synthesis among teaching, scholarship, and the production and dissemination of public knowledge. Inherent in this commitment is an encouragement to produce scholarship, creative works, and the development of new and useful materials, devices, processes, and other inventions, which may have potential for commercialization. Such activities contribute to growing the professional expertise of faculty and staff, enhancing the reputation of the University, fostering expanded educational opportunities, and promoting the general welfare of the public at large.

Scholarship, creative works, and inventions that have commercial potential may be protected under the laws of the United States and other countries that have established rights to Intellectual Property. The definition of Intellectual Property includes patents, copyrights, trade secrets, trademarks, and plant variety protection, among other rights. Intellectual Property is often created through the activities of the University’s faculty and other employees who have been aided wholly or in part through the use of University facilities and/or equipment. It therefore becomes necessary to secure the protection of such Intellectual Property to encourage business and industry to commit their resources to expedite its development and distribution for the public good. The rights and privileges, as well as the incentives, of the authors, creators, or inventors must be preserved and protected so that the use of their creations and the creations of others at the University may be further encouraged.

The Georgia Southern University Research and Service Foundation assists Georgia Southern University faculty and staff from all university units with identifying, protecting, and managing intellectual property. The Intellectual Property Committee supports this mission by making decisions on whether to pursue patenting, licensing, or copyright protection for inventions and copyrightable material or whether to assign the intellectual property back to the creator.

What are some common types of intellectual property protection?

Below are definitions of some common mechanisms to protect intellectual property:

  • A patent protects an invention for 20 years from the date of filing.
  • A trade secret can refer to any information, device, method, formula, etc., whether or not copyrightable or patentable, which is not generally known to the public and which gives competitive advantage to its owner.
  • A copyright protects written and artistic works for the life of the author plus 70 years. See Copyright Compliance and TEACH Act for more information.
  • A trademark protects icons such as words, names, symbols, or designs that symbolize a certain individual or organization, for as long as the icon remains in regular use. Examples include “Nike” and “GM”.

What are the respective rights and obligations of the University, its faculty, students, and other employees in Intellectual Property?

The Georgia Southern University Intellectual Property Policy governs all intellectual property created by faculty, staff and students.  See the full Intellectual Property Policy for details.

How and when must Intellectual Property be disclosed?

Prompt disclosure of intellectual property is necessary for effective protection and transfer of the technology. Disclosure is essential to protect potential patent rights and is a firm requirement of U.S. federal law when any federal money has been used to support the research. Disclosure is made using an Invention Disclosure Form.

Inventors must use an Invention Disclosure Form to provide necessary information, such as the source of funding, date of impending or issued publications, identity of all inventors, existence of records describing the invention, etc. If difficulty in obtaining this information is encountered or time pressures interfere, the Georgia Southern University Research and Service Foundation (GSURSF) and the Office of Legal Affairs can assist in the process.

The GSURSF has the responsibility to inform the sponsors of the occurrence of inventions under a research contract and to protect potential patent rights.

Inventors should also indicate any special information or desires at the time of disclosure. For instance, collaborations with non-Georgia Southern University colleagues or interest expressed by industrial scientists should be reported.

It may also be possible for inventors with an entrepreneurial spirit to commercialize their own technologies. However, an Invention Disclosure Form must be filled out in all cases where an invention is identified, and any interest in self-promotion of the invention should be brought to the attention of the GSURSF.

NOTE: THE INFORMATION IN A DISCLOSURE FORM IS CONFIDENTIAL. Copies of the disclosure form should NOT be sent to anyone (other than the Department Chair, if requested) – not even to sponsors of the research

Last updated: 4/27/2021