4.2 Intellectual property

Guidelines about the impact of the University's intellectual property policy
  1. In line with UK legislation, the University owns all intellectual property or other materials developed by its employees, unless explicitly stated otherwise. In exchange, the University provides generous revenue sharing schemes for employees and their departments, should the intellectual property be commercialised. Details of the scheme can be found in the University's intellectual property policy. The University does, however, waive copyright of academic outputs such as theses, journal articles, books or book chapters.
  2. Students are not employees of the University and therefore legally own any intellectual property arising from their research as long as all of the creative intellectual input has been that of the student. When students have simply followed a supervisor’s instructions, the intellectual input resides with the supervisor. Where the research results are clearly the output of intellectual input from both the student and supervisor then, depending on the particular circumstances, the intellectual input is jointly owned by the student and the University or each owns any intellectual property that results from their respective creative inputs, subject to the individual circumstances of each research activity.
  3. When a researcher is both a student and an employee (e.g. a graduate teaching assistant, an undergraduate doing hourly paid work via Unitemps, or a member of staff taking a part-time undergraduate, postgraduate taught or postgraduate research degree), ownership of intellectual property will normally be determined by whether the intellectual property was created during the researcher’s duties as a member of staff or a student.
  4. The University will decide, on a case by case basis, whether students should assign their intellectual property to the University. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that the appropriate documentation for executing such an assignment is signed in conjunction with the Research and Enterprise Division. On assigning their intellectual property to the University, students will benefit from the University’s exploitation policy on the same terms as employees.
  5. Where funding (cash or in-kind) is received from an external body, there may be agreement that the sponsoring body has rights to ownership of intellectual property arising from the project. The supervisor of such research, in conjunction with Research and Enterprise Division, is responsible for ensuring that the appropriate assignments of ownership are in place between any student and the University.
  6. The University’s intellectual property policy sets out the procedures to be followed should you make an invention or discovery in the course of a research project carried out as part of your normal University activities. It is essential that you contact the Research and Enterprise Division at an early stage to obtain advice and guidance. You must also be aware of the need to maintain confidentiality regarding the results of research, pending legal protection, in accordance with any instructions or advice from the Research and Enterprise Division.
  7. There is a range of ways in which confidentiality can be compromised by disclosure of information including a discovery or invention. Disclosures may occur as a result of posters, presentations, emails, informal conversations, etc., in addition to published papers. Breaches of confidentiality may result in actions for recovery of losses from a research funder or external collaborator against the University and the individual concerned, together with a loss of income. Even if a research funder is not involved, breaking confidentiality will result in an inability to protect the intellectual property at any time in the future. It is possible to have confidential conversations without compromising IP under the protection of a confidentiality agreement; such agreements can be prepared by the Research and Enterprise Division to whom all enquiries should be directed.
  8. If you leave the University, any intellectual property developed during your employment which is owned by the University, or by any research funder to whom such intellectual property has been assigned in accordance with a relevant contract or licence, remains the property of the University or funder. It should not be divulged to third parties without the permission of its owner, unless it is already in the public domain.
  9. Where research involves collaborative working with individuals and organisations outside the University, any protectable intellectual property developed by collaborators will be handled as agreed in the research contract. If the research contract contains a confidentiality clause, it may be possible to disclose the details of the intellectual property to all of the collaborators; otherwise it will be necessary to keep the details to those deemed ‘inventors’.
  10. Researchers must ensure that they do not divulge information received from a third party under terms of confidentiality without written permission, as to do so may render them liable to claims by the owner of the information. Such restrictions are very likely to persist beyond the end of a research project.

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Research Support Services Contact details

Tel - (0116) 252 2437 or (0116) 229 7763

Fax - (0116) 252 2028

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