Tech Transfer eNews Blog

MIT undergrads now required to sign IP agreement prior to sponsored research


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 6th, 2019

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is bolstering a policy that assigns the university ownership of intellectual property developed by undergrad students participating in sponsored research projects.

Currently, students participating in Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programs (UROPs) are required to sign MIT’s Inventions and Proprietary Information Agreement (IPIA) if the research is sponsored by a third party or uses significant MIT funds and facilities. This agreement transfers ownership of the research to MIT. Under the new policy, all students will be required to sign the IPIA during the UROP application process.

“It has always been required, and it’s written into MIT policy that everybody who participates in sponsored research will sign it,” says Siri Nilsson, IPIA and agreement officer at MIT’s Technology Licensing Office (TLO). “The issue is that not all departments were necessarily aware that it was required, and some departments did not have formal processes in place to systematically collect the signed agreements. It’s not a change in policy in any way. It’s more of an effective implementation of policy.”

The move will ensure that MIT does not violate any federal regulations – for example, the requirement “to own and to license intellectual property so that it’s publicly disseminated,” says Nilsson.

Most UROPs do not meet the conditions of the IPIA, so not all students will be transferring ownership of their IP to MIT. If their projects to meet the conditions, they will be credited as inventors, be named on a patent, and earn a portion of the revenue that MIT may receive from a license agreement.

“Undergraduates are an integral part of the MIT research community,” says Michael Bergren, associate dean of academic and research initiatives. “So it only makes sense that they also should have the opportunity to be in the conversation about intellectual property ownership, and I think one good outcome of this change with the UROP system is that they get to have this conversation sooner.”

Source: The Tech

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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