IP Policies and Guidelines

Policies & Procedures

The documents below offer information on Appalachian's intellectual property policies and procedures.

These documents offer policies at the University of North Carolina system level. 



The exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc. Such rights in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, generally endure for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author's death.

Design Patent

Granted to those who invent any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture (35 USC 171).

Directed Works

Works that are specifically funded by, or created at the direction of, or created pursuant to contract with, the University (including, but not limited to, works for hire by faculty or other EHRA employees).


A complete written description of an invention that is detailed enough to allow an inexperienced reader to replicate the creation of the invention and describe its function to others.

Exceptional Use of Institutional Resources

Institutional support of traditional works with resources of a degree or nature not routinely made available to faculty or other EHRA employees in a given area. In keeping with academic tradition, the University will not construe the provision of office, laboratory, studio or library facilities, as constituting “exceptional use of institutional resources,” as that phrase is used in UNC Policies. Exceptional use of institutional resources does include, without limitation, those situations where funds are paid (as salaries, wages or otherwise), atypical reassigned time (more than 3 semester hours per semester, excepting off-campus scholarly assignments) is granted to a faculty member or other resources are provided specifically to support the development of copyrightable materials.

Intellectual Property

Generally relates to four distinct kinds of legal protection: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. The kinds of things that are protected by intellectual property law include scientific and engineering inventions (including new methods and apparatus), distinctive marks for identifying products or institutions, computer software, "know-how," and forms of expression that are affixed in tangible form (i.e., books, movies, artistic works of art).


A person who makes an original, significant intellectual contribution leading to the conception of the invention.


A license is a legally binding written document in which one party, having definable rights in a property, transfers or grants all or some part of those rights to another entity for some type of consideration.

Material Transfer Agreement

An agreement where one party agrees to provide another party with their materials. MTAs should always be considered when conducting any outside collaborations with industry or other academic institutions. MTAs are typically used to protect materials that may be proprietary and/or embody a trade secret.


The exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain number of years. To be patentable, the invention or discovery must have utility, novelty, and be non-obvious. The US Patent & Trademark Office has determined that software which meets certain technical and legal criteria may be patentable. In the event that software originally disclosed as a Copyrightable Work is subsequently determined to be patentable subject matter, and ASU chooses to seek patent protection for the software, such software shall be managed under this policy as patentable Intellectual Property.


In general, an invention is patentable if it is new (35 USC 102), useful, and of a non-obvious subject matter (35 USC 103).

Plant Patent

Granted to those who invent or discover and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state (35 USC 161).

Prior Art

Any relevant publication, patent, or event prior to invention that may be considered by the patent office in evaluating patentability of the invention. If a patent application is filed in the US, anything that has been published, used in public, offered for sale or sold by anyone before the inventor(s) made the invention, or more than one year before the application is filed, becomes a part of the prior art for that application.

Provisional Patent Application

An application that can be filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that establishes the effective filing date of a patent application.

Shop Right

The right of Appalachian State University to use an invention or other work for non-commercial educational or research purposes without compensating the inventor or author for the use. This right includes without limitation the right to make and use derivative works.

Sponsored Works

Any type of copyrighted work developed with funds supplied under a contract, grant, or other arrangement between the University and third parties, including sponsored research agreements.

Technology Transfer

A term used to describe a formal transferring of new discoveries and innovations resulting from scientific research conducted at universities to the commercial sector.


Any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used by a person to distinguish his or her goods (15 USC 1127).

Trade Secret

Trade secrets may be comprised, generally, of any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which gives one an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it in commercial applications. To the extent permitted by UNC Policies, trade secrets in which Appalachian State University maintains an interest shall be protected in accordance with the terms of sponsored research agreements or, if none exist, by any lawful means available to the University as determined by the Chancellor or such officer's designee.

Traditional Work

A pedagogical, scholarly, literary, or aesthetic (artistic) work originated by a faculty or other EHRA employee resulting from non-directed effort. (Such works may include textbooks, manuscripts, scholarly works, fixed lecture notes, distance learning materials not falling into one of the other categories of this policy, works of art or design, musical scores, poems, films, videos, audio recordings, or other works of the kind that have historically been deemed in academic communities to be the property of their creator.)

Utility Patent

Granted to those who discover any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof (35 USC 101).

Work Made for Hire

A work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire (15 USC 101).