Catalyst Centre News

U of G Gets New IP Policy

All intellectual property (IP) created at the University of Guelph now belongs to the student or staff member who created it, according to a new IP policy.

IP owners have the right to commercialize their inventions, creations and ideas on their own, or they may choose to assign IP ownership to the University and work with U of G’s technology transfer services.

Previously, only members of the University of Guelph Faculty Association (UGFA) had the right to retain IP ownership, which was negotiated in 2009 as part of the UGFA Collective Agreement.

Students and staff were governed by inventions, copyright and software creation policies that obligated them to assign their IP ownership rights to the University.

The new policy approved by the Board of Governors during its final meeting of the 2013/2014 academic year, brings all other employee groups into line with what UGFA has had since 2009, extending IP ownership rights to all staff and students.

“We wanted to harmonize the IP policy so that it was fair and consistent for all,” says Rich Moccia, associate vice-president research (strategic partnerships).

“The change also brings U of G’s IP policy more in line with those at other universities.”

The new policy also enhances and facilitates commercial success by offering inventors a variety of paths to market, he said.

“They can either drive the commercialization process, or choose to work with the Catalyst Centre.”

A unit in the Office of Research, the Catalyst Centre runs all aspects of the University’s activities in intellectual property management and technology commercialization, including patenting, licensing and business development.  .

“We’re the gateway for industry to access research-based discoveries and inventions for commercial benefit,” said Erin Skimson, Catalyst Centre director. “The products, processes and applications that industry develops from U of G research benefits people in Canada and beyond.”

When researchers decide to work with the University on commercialization, the Catalyst Centre leads the effort in analyzing the technology, determining the relevant market, creating a strategy for IP protection, promoting the invention, and negotiating agreements, says Skimson. Risk associated with patent and/or marketing costs is also borne by the University.

Most IP created at universities is based on research primarily sponsored by some form of government funding. That puts some onus on owners to attempt to ensure that the IP is used for public benefit, Moccia says, adding that a achieving that benefit often requires protection and commercialization.

“We’re committed not only to making discoveries but also to putting those discoveries to use to change lives and improve life,” Moccia says.

“So moving research knowledge out of our classrooms and laboratories and putting it to use is our overarching goal.”

Information on the new IP policy is available online.