A patent is a grant issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office giving an inventor the right to exclude all others from making, using or selling the invention within the United States, its territories and possessions for a period of 20 years from the effective U.S. filing date of the patent application. The period of 20 years is exclusive of certain regulatory delays such as those sometimes imposed by the Food and Drug Administration and the patent grant process itself. The U.S. government grants this 20-year limited monopoly protection in exchange for the inventors teaching their discoveries to the public, "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts." Further, many people recognize that a modern economy cannot function without intellectual property protections. Patents may also be granted in foreign countries; procedures for filing, regulations for patentability and term of patent grant vary considerably from country to country.

To be patentable in most countries, an invention must be new, useful and non-obvious. In the United States, a grace period of 12 months from the first public disclosure of an invention is allowed to file a patent application. In most foreign countries, an invention is unpatentable unless the application is filed before public disclosure—written or oral. However, if one has filed in the United States prior to disclosure, the applicant has 12 months from the U.S. filing date to file in most non-U.S. countries without losing patent filing rights


As provided in copyright law, a copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute by sale or otherwise, and display or perform the work publicly. Under federal copyright law, copyright subsists in "original works of authorship: which have been fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device."

For an individual author, copyright protection of a work extends for the author's life plus 70 years. For employers, copyright protection of a work extends for 95 years from the date of publication. In contrast to a patent, which protects the reduction to practice of an "idea," copyright covers the "artistic expression" in the particular literary work, musical work, computer program, video or motion picture or sound recording, photograph, sculpture, and so forth, in which the "expression" is embodied, illustrated, or explained, but does not protect the "idea."

Intellectual property and technology portfolios

Advanced manufacturing

Advanced materials, chemical and geoscience

Aerospace and aeronautical tech

Consumer and training products

Information technology and software

Pharma, biotech and medical technology


D. Clark Bennett
(269) 387-8218
Director of Technology and Innovation Advancement