PraxisUnico's letter to Research Fortnight: IP Muddle

This week Research Fortnight published a letter from PraxisUnico in response to its article "Open Access Misunderstood by Latest Generation of Doctoral Students". The letter reads as follows:

“More than one-quarter thought that they, not their institution, owned the IP they developed, which is likely not to be the case in the UK.”

Students may be better informed about IP ownership, than this article!  In the UK, if students are not university employees, they are likely to own IP they develop, in the absence of any contract to the contrary.  Different universities take different positions, for different reasons, regarding (doctoral and other) student IP.  Some will require assignment of ownership by all – or just those involved in commercially sensitive work. 

This issue was aired in Douglas Robertson’s article “Intellectual Property rights and wrongs” in Research Fortnight of 18th April.  The subject was also recently discussed as a “Topical Issues” session at the PraxisUnico annual conference, and will soon be surveyed by the Association of University Technology Managers, across their membership (mostly USA), with support from PraxisUnico to cover UK universities – see here.

Ownership of student IP in the UK is muddled, and hence it isn’t unreasonable that students may be confused.  The forthcoming survey work is intended to help establish good practice.  Organisations such as PraxisUnico promote and disseminate this through their training programmes and conferences.  The Knowledge Transfer professionals trained by PraxisUnico are active in instilling good practice relating to intellectual property awareness and management within their own organisations.  This may be through policy and practice, and often through internal training for academic and student groups.

Patricia Latter, PraxisUnico Board Member and RVC Enterprise, Royal Veterinary College