Tech transfer glossary

From A to Z, find definitions of commonly used technology transfer terms in the glossary below.

Glossary of tech transfer terms

An agreement that allows KU researchers and staff to exchange confidential information with an outside party and includes obligations to preserve the confidentiality of the information. Generally, KUCTC manages CDAs relating to a potential licensing transaction.

A conflict of interest refers to anything that will significantly or directly impact KU’s interests, compromise a person’s objectivity, or compromise a person’s ability to perform their responsibilities to KU. See KU’s conflict of interest policy for a more detailed explanation.

A copyright gives the author or creator of an original work of authorship the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute or display their works. Computer software also falls within this category.

Copyright protects form of expression rather than subject matter or idea expressed. Software (code) is subject to copyright protection just like other works. Protection exists automatically once the work is created and fixed in a tangible form. Duration of copyright protection depends on several factors but generally extends for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

A grant is a transfer of funds, or a product, from one party — usually from the federal government — to another non-federal party. Grants are used to fund specific projects.

Intellectual property is any invention, discovery, technology or know-how that is a result of creativity and is eligible to be protected with a patent, trademark or copyright. For more information, read KU’s intellectual property policy.

An agreement discussing the management of intellectual property rights with a party that is a joint owner of the intellectual property. These agreements help clarify which party leads commercialization activities and how costs and revenue will be shared. Also known as a joint invention agreement.

See the template inter-institutional agreement (.pdf)


An agreement most often with a for-profit/commercial entity that will give that entity rights to commercialize or use KU intellectual property. A license agreement will often outline payments, legal details, development plans and diligence requirements. License agreements can be exclusive or non-exclusive.

A non-confidential summary (.pdf), or NCS, is a one-page summary document created by KUCTC that describes a technology for purposes of potential commercialization.

An agreement with a for-profit partner granting a time-limited option to acquire license rights in certain KU intellectual property. Often an option is used as an early step toward a more formal license arrangement with a partner, providing the partner with an exclusive period to conduct further review, discussion and diligence.

A patent is a form of intellectual property that gives an inventor the right to “exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited period. A patentable invention must be useful, novel and non-obvious.

An agreement among the inventors/contributors to a particular invention that specifies the sharing of revenue between those individuals and builds upon KU's revenue distribution policy.

An agreement with another party to sponsor certain research to be conducted at KU or KUMC by our researchers.  An SRA may be supported by funding from for-profit (e.g., private industry) or nonprofit (state or federal government, foundations, etc.) sponsors.

The transfer of technology refers to the process of moving technology, created through research, out of the laboratory and into commercial markets. To learn more about how it works, check out our Technology Transfer process breakdown.

The United States Patent & Trademark Office explains a trademark as serving the purposes of:

    • Identifying the source of your goods or services.
    • Providing legal protection for your brand.
    • Helping you guard against counterfeiting and fraud.