The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) has extended its deadline for faculty to sign agreements that would grant the university rights to intellectual property developed by researchers there. The agreements – which are in addition to existing IP policy – come in response to the Stanford v. Roche Supreme Court decision, which held that faculty must actually grant IP to their universities to effect the of transfer rights, not merely promise to grant those rights.
The decision to postpone, as announced by Provost Patricia Beeson, came after complaints surfaced that compelling faculty to sign the agreements was a breach of academic freedom, since faculty members who did not sign an agreement were told their federal grant proposals would not be processed without the signed document.
“After considering the issues raised, I have decided to delay the deadline for signing the Intellectual Property Rights Assignment Agreement and will be forming a task force to make recommendations for implementing a process consistent with our existing policy on intellectual property and in light of current expectations of funding agencies,” Beeson comments.
Pitt faculty members previously had until Tuesday September 16th to turn in the signed agreements. It is unclear how many faculty members had turned in agreements not knowing the deadline would be postponed, or what will happen to those signed agreements. “That’s one of the issues the task force will look at,” says Pitt spokesperson Ken Service.
According to Beeson, the task force will include assembly members, Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee members, and researchers university-wide.
Pitt officials say the agreements are necessary because of the Stanford v. Roche decision. But some Pitt leaders have expressed concern over the agreement’s language, tone and sudden urgency.
According to Service, Pitt never intended to go beyond its existing campus intellectual property policy, which includes language stating the university “claims ownership and control of the worldwide patent and intellectual property rights [that] result from activities of its faculty, staff and students.”
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette