Trademarks, Patents & Other Areas
Although this site is focused on copyright, copyright will not always be the right area of intellectual property law to cover your work. Intellectual property law also includes patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Identifying the correct type of intellectual property is the first step towards protecting your work or avoiding infringement.
Patents are perhaps the most well-known form of intellectual property. A patent is a right granted by the federal government to prevent all others from making, using, or selling your invention. Under U.S. law, a patentable invention is a new, useful, and non-obvious machine, manufacture, process, or composition. Basically, if you've come up with a new way to do something, you may be able to patent it.
Under UNM's IP Policy, inventions created by faculty, staff, and students will generally be owned by the University and commercialized by STC.UNM. If you have questions about patents, you can contact the Office of University Counsel or STC.UNM.
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. Trademarks are all around you. Nike, Microsoft, Apple, and yes, even UNM are trademarks.
Although faculty, staff, and students may generate trademarks, it is uncommon. One of the more common circumstances in which this happens is with startups. If you have created a brand, you may have created (and/or be infringing on!) a trademark.
UNM's IP Policy is silent on the treatment of trademarks created by faculty, staff, or students. If you have questions about trademarks at UNM, you can contact the Office of University Counsel.
Trade secrets are defined by state law as information that (a) derives its value from not being generally known and (b) is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. As an academic institution, UNM's goal is to spread knowledge and not to keep it secret. Nevertheless, trade secret issues arise frequently when faculty, staff, or students work with outside entities. For example, a research sponsor might want faculty to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) before it will share sensitive information. Another example might be the basketball team's playbook.
UNM's IP Policy is silent on the treatment of trade secrets held by faculty, staff, or students. If you have questions about trade secrets, you can contact the Office of University Counsel.