Home Forums Business and Legal Who owns the rights to college coursework? Reply To: Who owns the rights to college coursework?


Havok Steve is the man who’d surely know…[/quote:e8ff7a7b8d]

I cannot give you a definitive authorative response on this – but it is my understanding that all undergraduate student work is their own copyright and IP, regardless of where/how is was developed. At least in my experience that is how it is treated.

For postgraduate students the situation is often different due to the specifics of their funding. In most cases it is safe to assume that the Uni owns the IP – even where funding comes from the govt. etc. most of these grants have an explicit IP assignment to the University.[/quote:e8ff7a7b8d]

This would match up with the fact that in both matters where I acted for universities involved retention of IP rights at postgrad level.

I have seen many examples where a student’s final year work was in collaboration with a company e.g. doing specific work for that company and then submitting this as a thesis (in particular for night course students). This is encouraged by the Universities and I’ve never heard of any additional legal treatment necessary to ensure that IP ownership faciliates this.

I will try to find out more on this…

As for additional legal treatment being necessary, on one VC deal, where the founder of the company had developed a patentable process while teaching abroad, it was important for the investment to proceed that we could produce both waivers and assignments of the rights to him from the institution where he taught (there had been an IP policy in place assigning certain rights and options with the institution).

On another campus company matter, both the uni and the creator of the rights took shares in the company and it was necessary to put in place assignments to the new company of all the rights in the product from both (the uni owned all the rights developed when the founder studied there, he had also added to the works upon completing his thesis). The campus company could then start off licensing an IP product nice and cleanly.

In both cases the thorny issues about IP ownership were dealt with before the commercial exploitation of the products – that is by far the most sensible approach.

Even if you decide on the QT to go on to develop a game using something that a Uni might or does own, if at a later stage someone wants to invest in your company or a bank wants to give you funding you will have to give what are called warranties (i.e. statements of fact that you promise are correct), to paraphrase (without the legalese) some typical examples of these:

I own all the IP rights in the game.
No one else can claim those rights.
Anyone who worked on the game was my employee and developed the game during the course of their employment
I have shown you all documents and agreements relating to the IP rights in the game.
I have told you about all the software I used to develop the game and have shown you the licences to show I could use that software
… and this list goes on an on.

If those statements are later proven to be wrong you would be personally on the hook and could be sued.