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Intellectual Property Guide - Fort Wayne

Intellectual Property Overview

This guide has been created for students at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne in the School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, & Applied Technology. It provides an overview of the intellectual property issues that regularly arise in the professions of agricultural scientists, designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, inventors, and manufacturers.

The Copyrights section also explains the general rules for using published, public domain, and archival materials for teaching and learning. These apply to all our students and teachers. 

How does this apply to me?


All Ivy Tech Fort Wayne students, faculty, and staff must observe copyright law and fair use practices.

Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure Agreements

NCAs and NDAs are legal instruments - sections that are added to the contract when an employee or contractor is hired. They are designed to prevent the person from stealing corporate secrets by taking them to another company, or by setting up their own competing business. You need to understand what you are agreeing to when you sign an employment contract. 

Patents and Trademarks

While working for a company as an employee or contractor, you may author or invent a product or process that has value. There are many ways that you and your employer can apportion the benefits of your work through patents, copyrights, and trademarks. 

What is the difference?

As defined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office: 

"A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. Some examples include brand names, slogans, and logos." Trademarks and service marks are defined in part by being used, and therefore have no fixed duration.

"A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. Patentable materials include machines, manufactured articles, industrial processes, and chemical compositions." Also plants may be patented. Software engineers may patent processes that they invent. 

"A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture." Copyright durations vary, and may be extended. Software apps may be copyrighted.