Intellectual Property (IP) allows people to own their creativity and innovation in the same way that they can own physical property. Owning some IP gives rise to IP Rights (IPR) which is usually a monopoly right enabling the owner of the IP to control and be rewarded for its use.
It may not be possible to protect IP and gain IPR unless it has been applied for and granted, but some IP protection such as copyright arises automatically without any registration as soon as it has been created. It is for the owner of IPR to police for infringement. Any IPR may be limited in different ways depending on its registration, for example, by time period, by geography, or by subject matter.
Researchers must familiarise themselves with the University Financial Regulations and in particular Financial Procedure 13 and Financial Procedure 14 and also Regulation 28 of the University Calendar.
Further information may be found at Intellectual Property Office and Intellectual Property Rights Helpdesk (IPR-Helpdesk).
The types of IP comprise Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Copyright and each type is governed by particular rules, for example; Ideas and concepts for inventions are not patentable; Design protection relates to the appearance of product; Trade-marks must be distinctive for your goods or services; and Copyright is automatic so there are no fees to pay or forms to fill in.
Of the types of IP, the ones most pertinent to a University are Patents and Copyright. We know from the previous paragraph that Copyright is an automatic right; however there are specific rules that apply if you are to be successful at patenting your invention, in brief; Inventions must be kept confidential to be patentable and must be capable of industrial application; Granting a patent application can take several years; Patents can be renewed for a maximum of 20 years and New Patents Published on-line every Wednesday.
If researchers are making an application for industrial funding, and/or are in talks with a potential industrial or other collaborator in research, applied research and or consultancy, where the funder and/or potential collaborator, no matter the value of the potential funding, are looking to be convinced of your suitability and/or the University’s suitability, and require you to present data or science prior to a decision being made whether to fund and or collaborate, and you know that the data or science has value or a potential value, then it is imperative that a Confidentiality Agreement is entered into by the University with the potential funder and or collaborator.
A failure to have a Confidentiality Agreement in place, prior to your talking to the potential industrial funder / collaborator, may result in the University’s or your intellectual capital being used by the potential funder or collaborator costing the University and/or you money that might have been obtained from royalties, had that IP been protected and was part of a project that gave rise to an invention with industrial application.
Additionally, prior to entering into discussions with anyone, researchers must contact R&IS and explain to them what it is you are hoping to do, and ask that they conduct a search of the Universities records to establish whether the IP you will be using in support of the potential project is not conflicted or subject to third party rights.
In the event that the particular IP is either conflicted or the subject of third party rights, then the particular IP in question must not be used in the Project, or if used, advance notice of the fact that it is conflicted and/or subject to third party rights must be given to all participants.