As soon as you, as an author/creator, set down your writing, diagram, painting, music, sculpture, etc. in a ‘tangible form of expression,’ it is protected by copyright. In the U.S. copyright ownership belongs to the author/creator unless the work is considered a work for hire, that is created within the scope of employment or specially ordered or commissioned as a work for hire.
Copyright does not protect some things, like facts, names, short phrases, and methods. However, trademark law can be used to protect names and short phrases, and patent law can be used to protect methods.
The USF Inventions and Works Policy and Regulation addresses what works are considered a work for hire at USF and describe the types of works, inventions, and situations where the USF Technology Transfer Office will work with faculty creators and researchers to disseminate and protect the work or invention.