Intellectual property

Find out what arrangements need to be in place if your research includes intellectual property.

In general, you own any intellectual property (IP) you have exclusively created in the course of your studies. You will retain the copyright to your thesis after deposit in the Library.

In certain circumstances, however, you may be required to sign an IP agreement assigning intellectual property to the University. You may also be required to sign an agreement with any external party involved in your research.

Will I need to sign an IP agreement?

The most important thing to consider is the commercial potential of your research. Is there a chance that your research will lead to the creation of commercially valuable IP?

Additional factors determining whether you will need to enter into an IP agreement are:

  • the involvement of a third party in your research, e.g. a company, a research institute or another university
  • the possibility that you will use existing IP in the creation of new IP
  • the extent to which your use of University resources may contribute to the creation of new IP
  • the extent to which your research is part of a larger research programme
  • the likely contribution of your supervisors to the development of new IP
  • existing IP agreements with third parties.

If you think an IP agreement may be necessary, you must read the University's Intellectual Property Policy and discuss things with your supervisor.

Negotiating an IP agreement

A template agreement is available and your Head of School will be responsible for negotiating an agreement with you. You will be entitled to seek independent advice before signing the agreement.

An IP agreement must be signed before you will be given approval to carry out your intended research.

If you refuse to sign an IP agreement, you may not be allowed to pursue your research project, although alternatives can be explored.

Notification of new intellectual property

Once your research is underway, you must [notify the University – LINK to form below] of any IP you create that:

  • you believe may be of commercial interest
  • you developed under commission by the University
  • takes the form of software that is of commercial value and not for open source distribution

Benefit sharing

The University’s IP policy is that benefits derived from commercialisation of the IP owned by the University shall be equitably shared between the creator(s) and the University.