Creative Works Development Information
Success Stories


Following a major revision of the Intellectual Property Policy, The Creative Works Office was established in 1996 to take advantage of commercial applications developed in the areas of instructional materials, software, and creative works such as art, music and other media. The university administration had decided they wanted to tap into the copyrights and content developed at BYU, so they created an office specifically dedicated to the commercialization and licensing of creative works, separate and distinct from the TTO. The newly-appointed director of Creative Works asked the BYU administration to place the new office in a central location for easy access by faculty members and for an increased presence on campus. Not only did the arrangement relieve an already heavy workload in the TTO, but it also engendered specialized expertise BYU felt was needed when dealing with this very different form of IP. The administration realized that copyrights and creative works are different animals than what was being handled by the tech transfer office.

The major task of the first director of the new Creative Works Office was to educate the academic community about the new policy and the inclusion of creative works as part of the disclosure process. By the time the Creative Works Office was formed, the Technology Transfer Office had been soliciting disclosures for about seven years, but only in three of the ten colleges on campus: the College of Engineering, the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and the College of Life Sciences, where all the technical disclosures originated. Therefore, a deliberate effort was needed to reach the remaining colleges on campus and to mine disclosures for creative works that the administration knew were being developed by faculty members. Several seminars were held in colleges and departments to provide information on which creative works were covered by the new IP policy, on the process of disclosures, and on the way copyright inventions would be handled by the Creative Works Office. Because the Creative Works Office was interested in only those copyright inventions where the university had invested substantial resources, it was critical to find the gatekeepers of the funding resources and to find what projects were being funded by the university.

In 1997 the Creative Works Office established an online storefront for the software programs developed by the Humanities Technology and Research Support Center. One of these programs, CAPE (Computer Adaptive Placement Exams), uses state-of-the art computer testing techniques to accurately and efficiently place students in the first two years of college language courses. This product has been marketed for several years through online portals such as the one shown in Figure 3. Because about 600 institutions of higher education in the US and overseas use CAPE exams, these exams generate close to $100,000 a year in revenue for the university.

Prior to the establishment of the Creative Works Office, the existing creative works were being handled and distributed by the Technology Transfer Office. These included CAPE and some training videos from the college of Nursing.

The rest of the creative works developed by faculty members with BYU support were for a BYU audience. Prior to the establishment of the Creative Works Office, there was no centralized way of marketing the products coming from the School of Music, KBYU, the Department of Theater and Media Arts, and other departments on campus. It was decided that the best way to market these products would be through a BYU catalog that could be sent to mailing lists available on campus.

The first catalog was mailed in December 1997 and was sent to 160,000 alumni. Setting up a mail-order fulfillment center is a costly endeavor, and given the limited resources available to the newly formed Creative Works Office, the option of setting up a fulfillment center on campus was not feasible. The CWO initially opted to work with a small entity on campus that was running its own fulfillment operation. The results were satisfactory, but after a few years a new partner was selected because the small entity was not capable of expanding as would be necessary to accommodate the increasing number of products made available by the Creative Works Office. The Creative Works Office then decided to partner with the campus book store. CWO takes the orders and automatically redirects them to the bookstore, and the bookstore fulfills those orders. In turn, the bookstore charges the Creative Works Office 15 percent of sales. Initially the catalog was available in printed form and online, but after three years the printed catalog was discontinued due to rising printing and mailing costs. It was replaced completely by an online catalog as shown in Figure 4. Since its inception, the Creative Works catalog has generated sales of over $1.3 million.

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