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Technology Transfer Office
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Intellectual Property

TTO IP Introduction w/ FAQs

What is Intellectual Property?

The term 'Intellectual Property' refers to intangible property rights which are a result of intellectual effort.  The term, includes but is not limited to:


What is a patent?

A patent is an exclusive right granted in respect of an invention that provides a new and inventive way of doing something, or offers a new and inventive technical solution to a problem.

 The invention may be a product or a process.

A patent is granted by the Patent Office of the country in which you wish to protect your invention.

Patent rights are granted in return for the inventor's full disclosure of the technology to the public in the patent application.

The patent owner may give permission to, or license, other parties to use the invention on mutually agreed terms.  The owner may also sell the right to use the invention to someone else, who will then become the new owner of the patent.

In order for an invention to be patentable it must meet the following criteria:

  • it must show some new characteristic which is not known in the body of existing knowledge (called "prior art") in its technical field i.e. it must be novel,
  • a person with average knowledge in the technical field would  not be able to deduced invention i.e. it must be non-obvious,
  • it must be useful or capable of industrial application,
  • it must be part of the so-called "patentable subject matter e.g. or methods for medical treatment (as opposed to medical products) are not considered to be patentable subject).

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Why use Laboratory Notebooks?

Laboratory notebooks are essential to keep thorough records of experimental work as part of :

  • Good Research Practice
  • Research driven Intellectual Property management.

Correctly maintained laboratory notebooks are the best evidence in patent or other intellectual property disputes where invention, intellectual property ownership or date of invention is being contested. They are of particular relevance for Patents being contested in the US where the principle of 'first to invent' is applied.

Laboratory notebooks are available from the Technology Transfer Office administrator. Please submit your request via email giving details of the number of notebooks required, the name of the research group leader and a cost code. You can contact the TTO administrator by clicking

The cost of each laboratory notebook will be €5. This includes the cost of scanning the book should it be relevant to an invention disclosure submitted. Each book is numbered. The Technology Transfer Office tracks the books as they are issued to each research group. Each research group is requested to keep a record of who gets each individual book for tracking purposes. There are guidelines on the front of each book detailing laboratory best practice. A copy of those guidelines are included here

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What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a sign that is used to identify certain goods and services as those produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise.

 Trademarks may consist of a word, or a combination of words, letters and abbreviations and names.  They may consist of :

  • drawings
  • three dimensional signs, such as the shape and packaging of goods
  • a combination of colors or single colours.

Non visible signs, such as music and fragrances, may also constitute trademarks.

In all cases, the trademark must be distinctive, ie: it must be capable of distinguishing the goods or services with which it is used.

A name, which is purely descriptive of the nature of the goods and services that are offered, may not constitute a valid trademark.

The most common and efficient way of protecting a trademark is to have it registered.  Trademarks are territorial rights.  Unless a given trademark is protected in a specific country, it can be freely used by third parties.  Trademark protection affords a means of protecting the investment required to building a brand.

Unregistered trademarks are also protected in some countries, but in a less reliable form.

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What is Copyright?

Copyright is the legal term, which describes the rights given to authors/ creators of certain categories of work. Copyright protection extends to the following works:

  • computer programmes
  • original databases
  • original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works 
  • sound recordings, films 
  • broadcasts, cable programmes
  • the typographical arrangement of published editions

The owner of copyright is the author, meaning the person who creates the work. As copyright is a form of property, the right may be transferred to someone else. Where an employee in the course of employment creates the work, the employer is the owner of the copyright in the work, unless an agreement to the contrary exists. (Source: Irish Patents Office).

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What is Design?

"Design" means the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular:



  • the lines
  • contours
  • colour
  • shape
  • texture or
  • materials of the product itself or its ornamentation

A registered design is a form of 'industrial property', which can be:

  • assigned
  • transferred
  • licensed or
  • used by the owner.

Design protection is territorial - in effect a design registered in Ireland is only valid in Ireland.  Some aspects of the "design" may be protected by copyright. (Source: Irish Patents Office).

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Technology Transfer Office, Foundation Building, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Tel: +353-61-
234124, Fax: +353-61-233287, Website:

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