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Like copyright, patents are a form of intellectual property, but they pertain to inventions and grant the inventor a license and a set of exclusive rights for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention. Exclusive rights include the sole right to make, use, and sell the invention or technology. 

K-State Research Foundation
Kansas State University has an active program to facilitate technology licensing and transfer (commercialization) of intellectual property developed by University faculty. Fill out an invention disclosure form or contact the Research Foundation at tech.transfer@k-state.edu if you think you may have a patentable invention. 

K-State Patent Portfolio
Search Kansas State University's current patent portfolio which includes over 1,000 diverse patents comprised of valuable technologies ranging from neutron detectors to wheat varieties to nanomaterials.

United States Patenting
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office allows you to apply for a patent on an invention.


Trademarks are another form of intellectual property. Trademarks are recognizable and can be signs, designs, expressions, words, or symbols that help identify products and services to others in order to distinguish those services and products from others. Starbucks® coffee is an example of a trademarked name. Trademarks must be distinctive and used in commerce. For non-use of a trademark over three consecutive years without adequate control or supervision or from the trademark becoming generic, trademark rights can be lost.

K-State Research Foundation gives more information on trademarks.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office allows you to register a trademark.

K-State Trademark Licensing protects and promotes the names, marks, and logos of Kansas State University, such as the K-State Powercat and Willy the Wildcat. This office is administered as part of the business office, K-State Athletics, Inc. Learfield Licensing Partners also helps in the administration, marketing, and promotion. You can fill out the license application if you are interested in using any of the K-State marks or logos for any reason. You can find out more by reading the office's FAQ.

Trademark and the Public Domain is an informative page on the Public Domain Sherpa website that offers insight into reusing works that are in the public domain (or whose copyrights have expired) yet include a trademark. Essentially, what it comes down to is how you use the trademark. To commit trademark infringement, you would have to use the trademark commercially and/or potentially confuse consumers regarding the identity of a product or service.

Trademarks and Fair Use is a section of the fair use page that discusses descriptive and nominative fair use within U.S. trademark law. If you are using a trademark within your own work, you will need to determine if your use falls under one of these types of fair uses. Trademarks usually have both copyright and trademark protection; however, since trademark law is stricter than copyright law, if your use falls within trademark fair use, it likely also falls within copyright fair use.

Additional Resources

Intellectual Property Handbook For the Kansas State University Community describes the intellectual property policies and procedures associated with copyright, trademarks, and marketable software. This handbook helps clarify the "individual rights and institutional rights associated with ownership and with the distribution of benefits that may derive from the creation of various types of intellectual property" and "applies to all full‐ or part‐time employees, including students, who create intellectual property related to the scope of their employment under contract with Kansas State University. This policy also clarifies rights pertaining to student academic creations" (K-State Research Foundation).

Trademark, Patent, or Copyright?
This ~8 minutes video from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office helps break down the differences between trademark, patent, and copyright.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 
WIPO is a global organization that offers intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. WIPO also helps governments, businesses and society in understanding intellectual property and its many benefits.