Skip to main content

Intellectual Property and Research Commercialization

Intellectual Property (IP) encompasses the ‘intangible creations of the human intellect’ (  The purpose of IP is to encourage people to create new information and develop new inventions, etc., by giving them explicit ownership of their labors. IP benefits creators by protecting their ideas and by penalizing people who copy ideas without permission. For CNR, the most important types of IP are copyrights, patents, plant breeds, and trade secrets.  Various laws support these types.  
Unlike traditional property, IP can be copied or used by many people without depleting it. You could give someone access to your IP and they could, in turn, give it to others without your knowledge or permission. You cannot lock it up or surround it with a tall fence. Therefore it is difficult to protect!  At the same time, there’s no need for IP if you never intend to share what you have learned and sharing knowledge is at the core of our mission as a Land Grant university.  IP, therefore, must carefully balance incentives to create and the incentives to share.
The good news is that NCSU is a national leader in guiding our faculty towards proper IP management.  The NCSU Office of Research Commercialization is specifically tasked with helping faculty with evaluating, protecting and licensing IP, and bringing technology to the market.  They administer the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund and the NSF I-Corps.
More information: