Saturday, October 20, 2018 | ePaper

Who owns your work?

  • Print


Alyssa Walker :
You work. You work a lot. You produce papers, theses, prototypes, and lab results. You write about all of it. It's yours, right?
Wait-you're doing all of this work at your university? The answer gets murky, especially if you do something that launches your university into the academic spotlight. Confused?  You thought you owned all of your work? Rest easy. You might. You might not. You need to understand how intellectual property works, your rights, your responsibilities, and how to navigate the gray areas.
Here's what you need to know about intellectual property-and your rights.
Intellectual Property (IP): The Basics
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, IP refers to "creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs' and symbols, names and images used in commerce."
The law protects IP with patents, copyright, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications so that people can earn recognition or financial compensation from what they invent or create. The purpose of the protection? To stimulate the human capacity for creativity for the greater good, and not exploiting the creator. IP rights can have a direct impact on academia, industry, and trade-and can prevent the production of certain products. IP protections favors publication and public sharing but protects the rights of the human creator.
Two Channels: Copyrights and Patents
There are two major ways to protect your IP at the university level: copyrights and patents. Here's what you need to know:
Copyrights
Copyrights give the individual the "sole and exclusive" privilege to copy, distribute, and use their work.
What can you get a copyright for? Books, poems, painting, computer programs, publications, artwork, processes. The creator can register the copyright, but you don't need to register it to have valid, copyrighted work. A copyright holder can allow others to use their work through exclusive licensing.
Patents
In the US, a patent is a government-issued grant to a patent holder, which gives the patent holder certain rights.
Patents describe an invention and the legal scope of its defined work.
Creators can apply for patents for processes, machines, new products, and product improvements.
What can't be patented? Theories, ideas, laws of nature, and scientific principles.
How do you know if you own your work?
It's hard to tell, depending on your university and country. A lot depends on your institution's rules for the type of creator you are-student, visiting researcher, etc; the type of work; the use of institutional funds, and whether the work is created by one individual or a group.
How do you tell? You need to study the policies of the university or institution, individual contractual agreements, and applicable IP law.
Confused? You should be.
Bottom line? Do your homework. Most universities own the ideas and technologies invented by the people who work for them. They also own inventions created by students-even undergraduates.
If you're not sure and you want clarification on who owns your great idea, make a few phone calls or schedule a few appointments. First one? The US patent office. Second one? Your university president's office.
Get their policies in writing and make sure you understand what they mean so that you face no surprises regarding royalties or "fees."
(Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family).

More News For this Category

The self-defeat of academia

The self-defeat of academia

Elliot Berkman :These last few years have been tough for higher education. Enrollment is down year over year, state funding increases have stalled even as costs skyrocket, and most

Int'l Literacy Day 2018

Int'l Literacy Day 2018

Professor Quazi Faruque Ahmed :The theme of International Literacy Day 2018 is: 'Literacy and Skills Development'. September 8th was proclaimed as International Literacy Day (ILD) at the 14th session

Harvard University Day : Learn to change the world

Harvard University Day : Learn to change the world

Khana Ranjan Roy and Arafat Mustafa :Harvard University Founded in the 8th September 1636, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. Harvard  is the home of American ideas. Harvard University is devoted

LEDP: A blessing for students' employability development

LEDP: A blessing for students' employability development

Khalid Hasan :Every year thousands of students most of whom are rooted in the lower-middle-class family come to Dhaka in pursuit of fortune find it difficult to keep pace

English learning in Bangladesh: Needs more attention

English learning in Bangladesh: Needs more attention

Dr. Syed Nesar Ahmad Rumy :English, the international language is not a language only. It is almost a technology nowadays in Bangladesh and as well as other non- English

Mental health crisis among students

Mental health crisis among students

Alyssa Walker :A new study suggests that graduate students need more mental health support than they currently have. The study, published in Nature, suggests that graduate students have a

Let future trends dictate your education

Let future trends dictate your education

Campus Desk :Education is a major life investment. It takes time, money and a great deal of effort to achieve a degree. However, in this global society your education

Four fields of study to consider on World Water Day

Four fields of study to consider on World Water Day

Joanna Hughes :While most of us may not think twice about the water we drink every day, 2.1 billion people across the globe live without safe drinking water.  Because

Parent's guide to phonics

Parent's guide to phonics

Campus Desk  :What exactly is phonics? Many parents hear the term when their child is learning to read, but a lot of them have no clue what teachers are

Mentoring in educational institutions matters

Mentoring in educational institutions matters

Ashiqur Rahman :According to the University of Michigan, mentors are advisors, people with career experiences willing to share their knowledge with colleagues and students; support providers who give emotional