Intellectual property ownership often depends on the employment status of the creators of the innovation and their use of university facilities. This includes faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, among others.
As a general rule, the university owns innovations made by its employees while acting within the scope of their employment or using university resources. UNH’s IP Policy describes the applicable rules. In some cases, the terms of a contract such as a Sponsored Research Agreement or Materials Transfer Agreement may impact ownership. When in doubt, it is best to call UNHI for advice.
Student Intellectual Property Ownership
UNH’s IP Policy covers all UNH faculty, staff, and students (both undergraduate and graduate) but there are key differences with respect to students. These differences are described in the summary below. Please refer to the official policy for more details.
Graduate students own the IP they make, discover, or create. However, IP rights are assigned to UNH (or other specified parties) in a few notable instances:
- If the IP was developed in the course of employment or research at UNH;
- If the IP was developed from work directly related to the student’s employment or research at UNH;
- If the IP was developed from work done under a grant or other sponsorship, or in collaboration with individuals who are required to assign their IP to UNH; and/or
- If the IP arose from a dissertation submitted as part of the requirements for a degree.*
*Undergraduate and graduate theses and dissertations (and derivatives) are considered “Exempted Scholarly Works” and the students own the copyright unless the work was commissioned by the university or is under legal obligation. UNH retains a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to reproduce and publish Exempted Scholarly Works with proper credit provided to the author(s).
Undergraduate students own IP they make, discover, or create. However, IP rights are assigned to UNH (or other specified parties) in a few notable instances:
- If the student developed the IP while receiving financial support from the university (in wages, salary, stipend, or grant funds) that pays for the work in question;
- If the student made significant use of university resources** (e.g. university administered funds, facilities, or equipment); and/or
- If the student developed the IP in the course of research funded by a sponsor and there are legal agreements or policies in place that detail IP ownership.
**Significant use of university resources includes instruments or equipment that (a) are not available to the whole student body, (b) were purchased with federal research dollars, or (c) require supervision or training by a university employee to use. University resources do not include general resources, such as email accounts, internet access, printers, or physical or electronic infrastructure available to all students.