What is Intellectual Property?
IP refers to ideas, inventions, or creations that are the products of intellectual endeavour. These often intangible forms of property can be protected from unauthorised use under provisions of Patent, Industrial Designs, and Trademarks, Geographical Indications and / or Copyright laws.
Who owns what I create?
Ownership depends upon the employment status of the creators of the invention and the use of their institutions’ facilities.
• What is the source of the funds or resources used to produce the invention?
• What was the employment status of the creators at the time the IP was made?
• What are the terms of any agreement related to the creation of the IP?
• What are the “scheme of duties” outlined in the contract of employment, and whether the invention has been created in the “course and scope of employment”?
As a general rule, an institution or enterprise owns inventions made by its employees while working under a contract of employment and using resources of the institution or enterprise. If in doubt, you may contact the TTO for advice.
A funding agency may have minimal ownership rights (with the consent of the inventor) to discoveries resulting from such funded research, provided certain obligations are met. These obligations may include making efforts to protect (when appropriate) and commercialise the discoveries, submitting progress reports to the funding agency, giving preference to small businesses that demonstrate sufficient capability and sharing any resulting revenues with the inventors. The role of the TTO is to stimulate interest in technology transfer activities and help promote further research, technology commercialisation and educational/knowledge transfer activities for public benefit and socio-economic development.
Who owns rights to discoveries made while I am consulting?
The ownership of inventions made while consulting for an outside company depends on the terms of your consulting contract with the company. It is important to clearly define the scope of work within consulting contracts to minimise any issues with inventions from your institution’s or enterprise’s research. If you have questions, the TTO is available for informal advice.
Should I list visiting scientists on my Invention Disclosure Form?
All contributors to the ideas leading to a discovery should be mentioned in your disclosure, even if they are not employees of your institution or enterprise. The TTO, along with legal experts, will determine the rights of such persons and institutions. It is prudent to discuss with the TTO all working relationships (preferably before they begin) to understand the implications for any subsequent inventions.
Can a student contribute to an invention?
Yes, a student can even be the sole contributor or inventor. The policy for ownership of an invention developed with or by a student should normally be stated in the institution’s policy on ownership. It depends on whether the invention was created:
• in the course of following the institution’s programme;
• using the institution’s resources;
• under a contract or grant to the institution.