Office of
Research Services

Legal Protections

The UMKC Office of Technology Commercialization works hard to ensure that your discovery is correctly attributed and legally protected, whether that is through a patent, copyright, or trademark.

The federal government offers resources on the process of patenting, trademarking, and copyrights, as well as an online search. Contact us or find help at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office.


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 patent is granted. However, not every discovery—even those that can be successfully commercialized—requires a patent.

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.

A patent attorney will help you navigate the complex legal requirements to determine whether your invention is patentable.


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


A word, name, symbol, or device, a trademark identifies and distinguishes the source of a product and is used to prevent others from adopting a similar mark. It does not prevent others from making or selling the product under a different mark.

A servicemark identifies and distinguishes the source of a service.

UMKC may elect to pay to patent, copyright, and/or trademark inventions, and to license them to companies in return for royalty payments on resulting products. Royalties are divided according to university policy among the inventors, their college, and the technology commercialization program.