Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Memorial U adopts creator-owned IP policy

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 7th, 2019

Deciding that loosening the grip on IP rights may yield more commercialization in the long run, Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, has revised its IP policy to make dealing with the university easier. In fact, the university is giving up its stake in much of the IP developed by students and faculty.

The goal is to drive commercialization and entrepreneurialism, says Neil Bose, PhD, vice present for research at the university. “Companies that we had dealt with said that as a university we were difficult to deal with. Everything relied on setting up a university stake, the percent of revenue that the university owned, and the agreements that eventually were set up took a long time to progress through the system,” Bose says. “Our collaborators would see us as difficult to deal with, and at least in an anecdotal sense, that was our reputation among potential collaborators.”

Another impetus came from an analysis of income from all the university’s IP commercialization revenue streams. Over five years, the university had brought in only about $18,000 per year on these agreements. “Really that isn’t very big compared to the size of the university and the amount of effort that went into it,” Bose says. “Based on those two things, we over a period of a few years went through the process of revising the IP policy and we ended up with a system whereby essentially the faculty and students own the IP — a creator-owned IP policy. The university doesn’t have a stake in the IP unless it provides material input — cash basically — into part of the program or if we had been asked to provide support in the way of patent protection or something like that.”

If the university provided such support, the IP policy calls for an agreement in which the investment will be repaid. If Memorial University staff develop IP, as opposed to faculty and students, then the university does own a stake in the IP, Bose explains.

He expects the simplification to make IP more attractive to industry contacts. “I wouldn’t say it’s really easy because you still have the problem of the groups coming to an agreement, but it’s easier than having a third party as well, the university, trying to negotiate a claim too,” Bose says. “The company often would question why the university has a claim when it hadn’t really done anything or put any money in, since most of our research funding is third-party funding in conjunction with collaborators and research councils.”

A detailed article on Memorial University’s IP policy change appears in the July issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. For subscription information, CLICK HERE.

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