Office of
Research Services

Protect Intellectual Property

UMKC is substantially supported by the public, including the majority of its research programs. The public deserves maximum return for its investment in research through publication of results, sharing of expertise with students and others, and transfer of technologies to companies for commercialization.

Many university inventors report great satisfaction in seeing their research efforts result in practical benefits to society. Many also find that the increased contact with industry improves the relevance of teaching programs and increases students' chances for internships and employment.

By securing the intellectual property in your research and commercializing innovations, you benefit society and make money for you and university, as outlined in the University of Missouri’s Collected Rules and Regulations.

The protection of intellectual property begins with good laboratory practices and lab notebook recording practices.

Here are some useful guidelines for lab notebooks and researchers should meet the further guidelines of their department:


A U.S. patent gives inventors the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing the invention for a limited time. In exchange, inventors agree to publicly disclose the invention when the USPTO publishes the patent application and again when the patent is granted. However, not every discovery—even those that can be successfully commercialized—requires a patent.  Patents can be sought in other nations, as well, and the complexities in filing and legal proceedings make this an expensive process.  Each US patent may cost the university $25,000 to $35,000 to reach patent allowance and each country filing may be just as costly, if not more.

Patents can be awarded to a material, a process, a new use of an existing material, or an improvement on an existing technology, so long as it can be demonstrated to be new, useful, and not obvious to other professionals in the field.

Patents provide rights for limited periods of years for inventions in these categories:

1. Utility patents protect useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter. (20 years from date of filing)

2. Design patents guard the unauthorized use of new, original, and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. (15 years from date of grant)

3. Plant patents are the way we protect invented or discovered, asexually reproduced plant varieties. (20 years from date of filing)



Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services. Unlike patents, trademarks can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in business.  Trademarks may be registered with the federal government, the state government or used as a common law mark.  More information can be found here:


Copyrights protect the form of expression, but not the subject matter of a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work.

A copyright gives the owner exclusive right to:

  • reproduce the copyrighted work
  • create derivative works
  • distribute copies of the copyrighted work
  • perform the copyright work publicly
  • display the copyrighted work publicly

The Library of Congress registers copyrights, which last the life of the author plus 70 years for individual works.  More information can be found in the circulars provided by the copyright office:

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are information that companies keep secret to give them an advantage over their competitors.  As a knowledge dissemination entity, the university does not operate in trade secrets that often.  More information can found here regarding trade secrets and the other type of intellectual property discussed above:

More than one form of intellectual property may apply to a technology.  For instance, a software process may be patented, the code copyrighted and the name of the software program trademarked.  OTC staff can work with faculty, university counsel and outside counsel to review the intellectual property and make informed choices in regards to property protection.