creations of the mind. Magnifier photo focused on the word copyright

Imagine the logo of your department or agency was being used for commercial purposes by a person or organization not affiliated with the state.  What steps should the department take to stop the conduct and protect its rights to the logo?  Or perhaps your department hired a consultant to prepare materials, including brochures, forms and publications.  How would you determine how the materials can be used and under what circumstances?

These are just two examples where intellectual property law affects the interests of state government.  The Department of General Services (DGS) can help agencies and departments manage their intellectual property assets while helping them reduce potential legal risks at the same time.

What is intellectual property? – Intellectual property (IP) is a legal term that refers to creations of the mind, including an idea, invention or process. 

Common examples include:

  • Designs
  • Discoveries
  • Logos
  • Phrases
  • Software
  • Symbols
  • Words

How can DGS help state agencies? – As of 2012, DGS was given the authority under statute to help state agencies and departments manage and protect their intellectual property assets.  DGS will do so through the initiation of a multi-phase statewide outreach program.  Not only is it the law, but appropriately managing intellectual property benefits governmental entities and helps avoid unnecessary legal battles associated with the improper use of IP.


Highly knowledgeable members in Intellectual Property Law.

Intellectual Property Advisory Group Members

judgement book and gavel


Intellectual property (IP) is a legal term that refers to creations of the mind, including an idea, inventions or process.  Common examples includes software, discoveries, words, phrases, symbols, designs, and logos.  Original written works can be considered IP because they are subject to copyright.

There are four main types:

  • Copyrights:  pictures, audio and video recordings, maps, publications, Web page content
  • Patents:  inventions, processes
  • Trade Secrets:  methods, techniques, processes
  • Trademarks:  names, logos, symbols, identifying marks

For more information, see the Intellectual Property Program brochure and Basic IP Principals.

The intellectual property database application does not work with older version browsers that have their support ended with Microsoft, such as IE 8.  The state standard is IE10 and above but if you are still using IE8 for some reason, you would have to use google chrome to open the link below.

DGS Intellectual Property Database

a lock with the word copyright

How can a state agency manage and protect its IP? – DGS will be initiating a multi-phase outreach program to assist state agencies and departments in managing and protecting their intellectual property. For example, by registering service marks, trademarks and copyrights, when circumstances warrant, state agencies and departments will be better positioned to take legal action and avoid being associated with undesirable, unwanted and unacceptable messages.

What are the basic goals of the DGS IP program? 

1. Increase awareness about the benefits and value of IP.

2. Increase understanding of IP rights and the best ways to enforce them.

3. Increase respect of IP, so that state agencies and departments do not inadvertently violate another party’s IP rights.

4. Develop appropriate contractual language to assist state agencies and departments in managing their IP.

5. Establish a "help desk" to provide state agencies and departments with assistance in this complex area of the law.

What are the risks if a state agency fails to manage and protect its IP? – One of the primary risks is that a failure to manage IP could lead to inadvertent violations of another’s IP rights. 

If a department neglects to protect its IP rights, it could lead to unwanted association with undesirable messages or activities, which could damage the reputation of the state. For example, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) had to ask an alcoholic beverage company to stop using a DMV license plate because the department does not want to be associated with alcohol consumption. Had the department not managed its IP, then it would have no control over the usage of IP with its name attached to it.

DGS provides guidance to state agencies and departments seeking formal copyright protection to prevent unauthorized or inappropriate use of intellectual property. 


Intellectual Property Handbook

Intellectual Property Management Plan

Intellectual Property Policy, Roles and Responsibilities


The following resource links provide information on intellectual property rights protection and management.

  • Intellectual Property Program brochure Help for state agencies that want to protect their intellectual property.

  • Title 17 – Outline of U.S. copyright laws.


This intellectual property web portal is provided as a resource for general information for state of California agencies and departments. The information on these web pages is not intended to serve as legal advice or as a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of any particular legal matter. The information on these web pages is subject to change at any time and may be incomplete and/or may contain errors. You should not rely on these pages without first consulting with your own agency, departmental or private counsel. Through this intellectual property web portal, you can link to other websites over which DGS has no control as to the nature, content and availability of the sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed on these websites. Further, DGS does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from the use of the sites.


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Ephraim Egan

Intellectual Property Attorney

Office of Legal Services

707 3rd Street, Suite 7-330, MS - 102
West Sacramento, CA 95605, CA 95605

Phone:  (916) 376-5103