Intellectual property refers to "creations of the mind" that may be protected by law. Patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets are all examples of intellectual property protections for inventive or creative ideas. Also, materials, data, and databases that are proprietary often contribute to new ideas and intellectual property. At Intermountain Healthcare, the Invention Management Office assists with matters relating to intellectual property.
More information on intellectual property is provided below.
- Patents are government grants of property rights that provide an inventor with a time-limited right to prevent others from making, selling, and offering to sell the invention in exchange for publicizing the best mode for carrying out the invention. The patenting process often takes years to complete, so your sustained engagement and assistance is critical. Also note that patent protection may not be the most appropriate form of protection for some inventions. For instance, invention disclosures covering software programs can often most appropriately be protected by copyrights.
- Copyright is a right secured when the original work of authorship is set down in a fixed and tangible form. Works of authorship include but are not limited to literary works, audio-visual presentations, and computer software code. While copyright is automatic, there are certain advantages to formally registering for a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.
- Trademarks are words, names, symbols, or designs that are used in trade to indicate the source of goods carrying the mark and to distinguish them from the goods of others. There are certain advantages to formally registering for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- Trade Secrets and Know-How are ideas or procedures that are not patented or copyrighted, but still are proprietary. An example is Coca Cola's formula for Coke. This is not patent protected, but is protected as a trade secret that is not available to others outside the company.
- Proprietary materials, data, and databases are materials (generally biological), data, and databases that are unique to Intermountain Healthcare. Proprietary materials can include cell lines, DNA, hybridomas, microarrays, plasma, or tissue samples. Further, data and databases of our information could lead to important discoveries for development of novel diagnostic tests, treatments, or clinical practices that benefit the general public. Aspects of proprietary materials, data, and databases may be patentable or copyrightable, but protection may not be necessary to preserve value.