Research and Innovation

About Intellectual Property (IP)

Intellectual Property (IP) is ideas, information and knowledge; in the University context IP can be viewed as the results and outcomes of research. ‘Intellectual’ because it is creative output; and ‘Property’ because it is viewed as a tradable commodity.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are specific legal rights which protect the owners of IP. IPR can be subdivided into the following major categories.

  • Patent

    Grants a legal monopoly lasting 20 years granted in exchange for describing an invention and paying fees to the Patent Office. A patent position is destroyed by public disclosure of the idea before a patent application is filed (except for a short grace period in the US). Provided that care is taken with timing patent protection can be put in place without preventing timely publication.
  • Trade Mark

    A mark (logo) or other distinctive sign applied to or associated with products or services, which does not describe the products or services.
  • Design Right

    Applies to aspects of the shape or configuration of an article. Unregistered design right (which covers computer chips, for example) can protect internal or external features. In the case of registered designs, the features must appeal to and be judged by the eye.
  • Copyright

    Applies to literary and dramatic works, artistic and musical works, audio and video recordings, broadcasts and cable transmissions. Copyright is also the usual way of protecting software, although some software may be patented if it is a functional part of an invention. Copyright arises automatically; it does not need to be applied for; and lasts 70 years after the death of the author.
  • Database Right

    Applies to databases which are not protected by copyright (an EU right only).
  • Confidential Information

    Knowledge which only you possess and which you have only revealed under a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement.

Successful management of IPR provides the means by which individuals and institutions are able to protect their creative output from imitators. An understanding of IP and IPRs is an increasingly important aspect of University and business life. Now, more than ever, IP is recognised as a tradable commodity.

For further information contact the IP Commercialisation office.

IPR Summary



Need to apply?

Maximum duration




20 years

Registered Trade Mark

 Name, logo



Registered Design

 Image; look & feel


25 years


 Literary, musical, artistic works, & software


70 years after death of author

Database Right



15 Years, can be extended if the  database is updated

Confidential Information

 Unpublished secret information




For more information around Copyright see the Copyright Policy which is managed by the University of Nottingham Libraries team.

If you feel you have an invention or an innovation that has commercial application, please contact the IP Commercialisation office . 

The below IP disclosure form will enable the team to thoroughly assess the technology and perform any necessary due diligence. It is advisable to complete the form in consultation with a member of the IP Commercialisation office where possible.

 IP Review Form Microsoft Word

IP Commercialisation

The Ingenuity Centre
University of Nottingham Innovation Park
Triumph Road
Nottingham, NG7 2TU

telephone: +44 (0) 115 823 2180
fax: +44 (0) 115 823 2181