The CSU mission is to advance and extend knowledge, learning and culture, especially throughout California. To provide opportunities for individuals to develop intellectually, personally and professionally. As part of its mission, CSU aims to promote an academic environment where creative works, innovation, and entrepreneurship are encouraged and supported. This mission is guided by well-established academic values and practices, including, among others, academic freedom and with it the privilege to generate and disseminate new knowledge. To that end, CSU is committed to the development of policies and procedures to help support the creation, dissemination and commercialization of intellectual property.

Many CSU faculty are actively involved in research, technology development, creative works and other scholarly activities across a wide spectrum of disciplines that have the potential to generate intellectual property. CSU’s diverse pool of talented faculty have interest and expertise in applied domains such as agriculture, engineering, water systems, biotechnology, coastal and marine sciences, energy efficiency, alternative energy, transportation, human factors in technology design, and health and education.

CSU has long recognized that the engagement of students in research and other scholarly activities is a powerful tool for achieving student success. Among other benefits, student participation in these activities can foster analytical and critical thinking, increase academic achievement and retention, clarify a student’s choice of academic major, create opportunities for teamwork and the development of important lifelong skills, and promote enrollment in graduate school programs. Student research experiences also provide the necessary skills to translate theoretical information into practical knowledge, allowing students to successfully compete for jobs and other opportunities, and participate effectively in the workforce after graduation. CSU recognizes that the involvement and contributions of student researchers is an invaluable part of the creation, dissemination and commercialization of intellectual property within CSU and beyond.

In the spirit of promoting the creation and commercialization of intellectual property in the CSU, this website aims to provide an introduction into basic intellectual property legal concepts and provide resources for further learning and engagement on these topics.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to original creations of the mind such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, and images that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. IP also includes the physical embodiments of intellectual efforts (e.g., models, devices, machines, designs, software, etc.).

Some common types of IP are patents, copyrights, and trademarks, each of which offer different rights and protections to the owner of the IP. In general, copyright ​​protects original artistic or literary works, while patent may protect ideas, inventions and discoveries. Likewise, a trademark protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. For example, if you invent a new kind of washing m​achine, you would apply for a patent to protect the invention itself, you might register a copyright for the TV commercial and website content you use to market the washing machine, and you would apply to register a trademark to protect the brand name of the washing machine.

Works or inventions may be protected in multiple ways, depending on the nature of the work or invention and the features to be protected. This ability to have overlapping protection allows an inventor or creator to protect different aspects of their work, resulting in potentially longer and broader protection.