Innovation Asset Blog

Determining the line in academic intellectual property

The American Association of University Professors issued a report on faculty intellectual property rights after Stanford v. Roche, a landmark case from 2011. In the decision, the U.S. Supreme Court found the inventor owns the title of a patent first, regardless of contractual obligations to assign these rights to a third party.

In the aftermath of this decision, university professors and their institutions both have questions about who claims title to inventions derived from laboratory research. Increasingly, colleges and universities are also addressing the question of who owns the copyright to material professors produce, including online courses, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Many universities have begun to assert they own the products of faculty research. According to the AAUP, this represents a perception at universities that professors are not researchers and scholars in their own right. Regardless of its motivation, such an assertion raises a number of questions.

If universities own the product of research, do they also own copyrights to publications by their professors? Where are the limits in such a claim, and what is their legality? The AAUP report attempts to reframe these questions in terms of the Stanford v. Roche decision, and to inform faculty of their rights to what they create. According to the report, professors need to be aware of decisions like Stanford v. Roche that influence their intellectual property rights. Professors and universities should work together to delineate what the institution owns and what belongs to the individual.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.