Inventor FAQs

What is the purpose of disclosure?
First of all, disclosure of inventions or works including scholarly works is required. According to MTSU policy, disclosure is required within 60 days of discovery. If the invention is made as a result of a federally sponsored project, federal law (Bayh-Dole Act) requires disclosure, and the University is given the right to patent, copyright, and/or commercialize inventions and works. Aside from complying with requirements, inventors and authors will share any profits from the IP with the University after patent or copyright costs are recovered. The University will consider assuming the risk and considerable costs of patent application, marketing, and/or licensing of inventions or works disclosed.

What is the scope of patentable inventions?
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), patents may be issued for inventions that are novel, non-obvious, adequately described to allow one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention, and claimed by the inventor in clear and definite terms. Patentable inventions include: process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, and improvement of the preceding items. Such patents are defined as Utility Patents. Items that cannot be patented include laws of nature, physical phenomena, abstract ideas, literary/dramatic/musical/artistic works (which can be copyright protected.) More information is available at

What is copyrightable?
According the Copyright Office, copyright law protects the authors of "original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works." This protection covers both published and unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or domicile of the author. Copyright law grants copyright holders, such as publishers, writers and other types of creators, the exclusive right to reproduce, perform, distribute, translate and publicly display their original works. Copyright is automatic when a work is written or recorded, but registration, as well as more information about copyright, can be obtained at

What is the advantage of patenting or copyrighting?
Both patents and copyrights allow the inventor or author exclusive rights to commercialize the invention or work, respectively. This means you can make money by selling, licensing, or pursuing commercialization of your idea! If the University is willing to take on the cost of patenting and or support of commercialization, you can avoid the risk, while sharing in the profits. The University shares profits with the inventor or author after the costs of IP development and protection have been recovered.