Office of Research Types of Intellectual Property - Office of Research

Types of Intellectual Property


Very simply, copyright protects the effort that goes into creating “original works of authorship” and art by providing exclusive rights to the copyright owner (who is not necessarily the author or artist) for a limited, albeit long, time. The types of “work of authorship” are very broad – from the writings and artwork you expect to things like choreography, web pages, computer programs, databases, architectural drawings and boat hull designs. Learn more at the UC Davis Copyright Website.


A patent for an invention grants “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention or importing the invention into the country where patent rights exist. Patentable subject matter includes new compounds, methods, plants, and software. Obtaining a patent can take many years and significant expense.

Trade and Service Marks

A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A service mark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms “trademark” and “mark” are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a “confusingly similar” mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. Trademarks which are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the US Patent & Trademark Office. Trademark law is very complicated and requires specialized attorneys.

For more information about UC Davis’s trademarks, check out the UC Davis Trademark Licensing Website.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are confidential information, methods, machinery etc. that provide a business competitiveness. Trade secrets are usually protected by a confidentiality, non-disclosure or secrecy agreement. At UC Davis, these are signed by Contracting Services, the Sponsored Research Office or InnovationAccess, depending on the type of information to be protected.

Intellectual Property (IP) Awareness Training

The Office of Research and Graduate Studies and the Office of Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services at the University of California Office of the President have developed an online training resource for University of California students, faculty, and staff, and relevant to all inventors and content creators in academia and beyond, that focuses on the four main categories of IP: patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. For more information, go here.