Intellectual Property Policy
The purpose of this Policy is to describe the university's approach to Intellectual Property generated in the context of research in and by the university:
(a) In such a fashion as to be understandable to the university's staff, students and academic and industrial collaborators.
(b) In such detail as to provide concrete guidelines in a practical framework.
(c) In sufficient clarity to delineate roles and responsibilities, rights and obligations and to avoid mis-understandings.
If in doubt or have any questions always feel free to speak with the TTO.
Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creative work or an asset which exists in the form of material that has commercial value. It may be in the form of new ideas for processes, techniques, designs or computer software. Intellectual Property Rights IPR’s are legal forms of protection for your IP. Ideas in their own right are not IP the idea must be ‘tangible’ before it becomes IP e.g. not a conversation etc.
What are the different types of Intellectual Property?
There are 4 types of Intellectual Property.
- Patent: A Patent protects new inventions. An Inventor can file for a Patent on a design, if the patent is certified it gives the Inventor the right to exclude others from making, selling and using this design (usually for a period of time). The owner of a patent may sell or license their rights to the invention by transferring ownership or allowing others to use it normally under the terms of an agreed licence agreement. The patent right is territorial. A patent to be granted by must be novel and inventive (not obvious)
- Trademark: Trademarks are logos, names, graphics or symbols that distinguish manufacturers, products or services from others
- Copyright: Copyright protects written, theatrical, musical, film, book layouts, sound recordings and broadcasts. Copyright is an automatic right which means you don’t have to apply for it. Copyright does not protect the ideas behind the work but how they are expressed
- Trade Secrets: Trade Secrets are knowledge and processes that give a company competitive advantage over another company. The company protects the trade secret by means of employee awareness and robust security policies.
Other types of IP rights also exist such as design rights, semiconductor rights, database rights etc.
Generally Creators own Intellectual Property which they create and they are typically free to disseminate this Intellectual Property, publish or conduct performances based on it, or to pursue its Commercialisation except as described in section 5 of Intellectual Property Policy version 2 – commencement date 24th April 2018. Creators may, if they wish, pursue commercialisation through the TTO based on a mutually agreed, written framework. In each such case the Institute would expect to share in any commercial benefits that might be generated from the commercialisation of the Creator-owned Intellectual Property in question.
The university requires access to all data/results of any research carried out or generated using university resources.
It is worth considering whether you may have actually created the IP entirely on your own. You may have collaborated with groups e.g. Supervisors/Technicians during the process. You may not have the expertise/resources to protect the IP or the know how to commercialise the IP. The university would use their expertise and resources to protect and exploit the IP. You should look on the university as a valuable resource to offer you support and protection.
If the IP is exclusively owned by Staff or Student they can subject to written agreement engage with the Technology Transfer Office to protect and commercialise their IP. The university would expect to participate in the commercial benefits, if any arise.
The Technology Transfer office will develop a suitable plan for the protection and exploitation of the University Intellectual Property including identifying potential fields of application and potential licensees and/or the opportunity to create a spin-out company through which to commercialise the IP. The university encourages university staff to consider commercialising Intellectual Property they have created potentially through a start-up company or other means. When the start-up is based on the university IP, the company would be regarded as a spin-out company of the university.
This could be the first step in progressing your discovery. Feel free to come in and discuss in confidence. The reason you may have to sign this agreement is to permit TTO to evaluate your discovery to determine whether commercial development is feasible and/or whether patent protection should be applied for.
If for example a researcher is in talks with a potential collaborator they might require you to present data or an example of your work prior to a decision being made whether to fund or collaborate with you on your project. In this case as you know the data has value or potential value then it is imperative that you enter a Confidentiality Agreement as your data may be exploited by the collaborator costing the Institute and you revenue that might have been obtained through royalties. The TTO will advise and assist in the process.
The Technology Transfer Office should be your first contact, the TTO is charged with day to day matters relating to the identification of IP, securing and maintaining IP rights and facilitating the exploitation of IP for commercial use. They can provide the following:
- Conduct a search of records to establish whether the IP you are submitting is not conflicted or subject to third party rights.
- Training and support of all IP matters
- Assist in formulating invention disclosures, and processing patent applications
- Evaluate in cooperation with Institute staff and experts as appropriate
- The commercial potential of the IP
- The appropriate forms of IP protection as required
- Develop and undertake an appropriate Commercialisation strategy for university owned IP.
- Negotiate all contracts and agreements relating to the generation, ownership, protection and exploitation of Intellectual Property.
- Deal with Intellectual Property issues that may arise in the administration of such agreements or contracts.
Please contact [email protected] if you require more information.
The university has an Incentive Programme, the “Commercialisation Reward & Incentive Programme” this is to fairly reward those responsible for the creation of commercially successful university IP and to incentivise staff and students to be entrepreneurial in this respect. Inventive rewards are described in section 9 of Intellectual Property Policy version 2 – commencement date 24th April 2018.
The university recognised that in the pursuit if commercialisation of IP that university staff may find themselves a position that may constitute a conflict of interest. Should a staff member or student feel they may have a conflict of interest, or be affected by one, the proper action to take is to disclose their concern in writing. Such disclosure should be made through the process identified in the Conflict of Interest Policy. Each matter will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Creators may appeal decisions made by the TTO concerning IP to the VP of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies. The university is committed to resolving conflicts internally and amicable prior to outside processes being engaged.
In addition to the implementation and updating of the IP Policy the TTO provides services to staff in relation to reviewing contracts (NDAs, partnership agreements, MOU etc), putting you in contact with commercial networks, developing proposals, reviewing patent landscapes and shaping commercial strategies. The TTO is here to help – we are open for business drop in for a coffee.