Researcher Portal
Managing IP

This section provides information on managing IP during a research project and protecting and maximising the IP outputs

Intellectual Property (IP) is any intangible asset consisting of knowledge and ideas. It allows the outputs of research work to be owned in the same manner as physical property and protects it from infringement or copying. IP can be bought and sold like any form of property, and can also be rented out by the process of licensing, resulting in significant commercial and financial benefits for individuals, research groups and the organisations employing them.

The most common types of intellectual property arising from research are:

  • Patents provide inventors and owners with the exclusive right for a limited period of time to prevent anyone else from making, using or selling the invention (except with the consent of the patentee). Patentable research outputs may include machines, manufactured articles (devices), new materials (materials), processes (methods), and improvements of any of these, provided they are novel, contain an inventive step and have an industrial application. Generally a patent lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application; however Ireland also offers a "short-term" patent, valid for a maximum of ten years.
  • Copyright gives the author/creator exclusive rights to their original work. They have the exclusive right to prohibit or authorise others to copy, perform, adapt or make the work available to the public through broadcasting or recordings. Copyright is generally applied to original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound and visual broadcasts, computer programmes, original databases or the typographical arrangement of published additions. Copyright law does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed.
  • A Design is legally defined as being "the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or ornamentation".
  • A Trademark is a unique, recognisable sign, design, symbol or expression which identifies products or services of a organisation from those of others.
  • Confidential information or know how is a broad term used to cover information not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which the owner can obtain an advantage over competitors. An owner must show that the confidential information has been maintained in a way that reasonably anticipates preventing others from learning about it. It may refer to a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information and unlike patents and trademarks there is no way of registering ownership with a government agency.