Technology Transfer

The Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) is the University's office charged with management of SMU’s intellectual property (IP). ORI collaborates with General Counsel at SMU and retains outside counsel to assess, protect, and commercialize intellectual property.

Patents - Protecting Inventions

A patent is a property right, which gives the holder the exclusive right to exclude others from the manufacture, use and sale of the invention for a period of time. As property, it may be sold or assigned, pledged, mortgaged, licensed, willed, or donated, and be the subject of contracts and other agreements. Under the United States standards of patentability, all patent applications are examined for (a) novelty, (b) utility, and (c) non-obviousness. Patents are granted for inventions of new and useful processes, machines, manufactured products, compositions-of-matter, or any new and useful improvement to an existing invention. More details and definitions on patents can be found in SMU Policy 10.16.

Faculty, Staff, and students who create intellectual property should submit an Invention Disclosure through the Wellspring Sophia Technology Transfer Software. Log in with your SMU credentials. Additional details about the patent process can be found in the Research Handbook.

Wellspring Sophia Technology Transfer Software

Copyrights - Protecting Original Artistic Works

A copyright is a grant by the United States of exclusive rights over literary, musical, or artistic work. An issued copyright ensures that the creative work will be expressed, duplicated, and shared in its original form. Copyright protection is available for a wide range of works, including books, plays, computer software, music and lyrics, artwork (pictorial, graphic, or sculptural), motion pictures, photographs, choreography, graphic design, and architectural works. Copyright protects only the original expression, not the idea itself. More details and definitions on copyright can be found in SMU Policy 10.17.

Copyright FAQs

No, all rights in copyright remain with the creator. In keeping with academic tradition, ownership and copyrights of books, articles and such similar works as musical compositions, choreography, paintings, videos and films created by faculty, students, and staff, including those works resulting from scholarly research, study, and creative academic activity, remain the sole property of the faculty, student, and staff creators.

There are a few exceptions in which SMU would retain copyright ownership:

  • A “work made for hire”
  • A student project requiring significant financial support by the university
  • A work directly and specifically commissioned by SMU
  • Institutional works

Faculty are able to use the following in courses:

  • Book chapters or journal articles: Through the additional rights licensed by SMU, faculty can use text-based materials, such as single book chapters and journal articles, in online course. Ask your librarian for details.
  • Films or audio recordings: Embedded players or links are okay to use in online courses.
  • Images: Images from licensed databases, such as ARTSTOR, are available for use.
  • Sheet music: Digital scores are okay to use from licensed databases, such as Music Online.
Yes, excerpts with author attributions, and under “fair use,” is allowed. If the presentation is distributed via a public medium, special precautions should be taken to clear the rights for copyrighted material. If rights cannot be secured, the material should be replaced with alternative copyright-cleared or copyright-free content.
Fair use is the right to use a copyrighted work under certain conditions without permission of the copyright owner. Principles and application of fair use have been organized into a searchable system in the Fair Use Index. The Index was created by the U.S. Office of the Register and is a searchable database of court opinions, including by category and type of use (e.g., music, internet/digitization, parody). The Index can be found here.

Trademarks - Protecting Unique Identifiers

A trademark is a word, name or symbol adopted or used by an individual, corporation or other entity to distinguish its services from others' services. Trademarks protect unique identifiers, including slogans, logos, symbols, designs, packaging, or company colors. When a mark is registered in the Texas Secretary of State's Office or the US Patent and Trademark Office, the trademark owner obtains certain rights and benefits. More details and definitions on trademarks can be found in SMU Policy 10.16.

Trademark FAQs

A trademark is a word, name or symbol adopted or used by an individual, corporation or other entity to distinguish its services from others' services. Trademarks protect unique identifiers, including slogans, logos, symbols, designs, packaging, or company colors.
The ® symbol indicates that the mark is federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The ™ symbol, placed behind the mark, indicates that the word, design, symbol, etc. is claimed as a trademark by the owner.
The university claims ownership and all right, title and interest in and to its indicia, which includes trademarks, service marks, trade names, designs, logos, seals, symbols, mascots, slogans and any other indicia that is associated with or refers to the university. Indicia may also include use of the university's color scheme in combination with facts or wording that implies an association with the university.
If you use the SMU name or logo in any published work, please refer to Legal Affairs for related policy. This may include adding SMU logos to computer programs, presentations, posters, or online educational resources. Or, if you are developing a new trademark to use in university-supported center or department, contact Legal Affairs for guidance on disclosure and protection. Please note, anyone who wants to make merchandise with SMU trademarks, logos, or other protected verbiage must have a trademark license agreement to do so.
A trademark license agreement is the legal contract that governs the relationship between the party producing/selling products (licensed products) that use SMU’s trademarks/logos and SMU. A trademark license must be in place before any licensed products are manufactured; sold or marketed.

Contact Technology Transfer

Dr. Marco Marchetti, Director of Technology Transfer