Aug. 23, 2007

Intellectual property policy rewritten

The Board of Trustees has approved revisions to Purdue's Policy on Intellectual Property that are intended to simplify the policy and make it easier to administer.

Peter Dunn, associate vice president for research, says the new policy (VIII.4.1) is shorter and easier to decipher, and places the responsibility of interpretation and administration with the Office of Research Administration within the Office of the Vice President for Research.

"The general principles of ownership described in the previous policy were in line with the University's and Purdue Research Foundation's Strategic Plans, but there was a lot difficulty with understanding the policy because of the way it was written," says Dunn, who serves as director of university research administration. "As a result, many people didn't know about it or understand its application to what they were doing. The policy wasn't having the impact it was intended to have.

"Also, the previous policy never identified any University office or official that was responsible for interpreting and administering the policy. I know that many questions went unanswered because people didn't know who to ask."

The primary purpose of the Policy on Intellectual Property is to provide guidance on circumstances under which the University would claim ownership to inventions, copyrightable works and other products of scholarship developed with University resources.

Under the policy, University employees are responsible for disclosing their work to the Office of Technology Commercialization. This disclosure provides the basis for a determination of patentability and for drafting a patent application.

Dunn says the revision process for the policy began in fall 2005, when President Martin Jischke appointed a task force of faculty and administrators to review the policy's effectiveness. In March 2006, the task force presented its findings and recommendations.

"We spent the next year reviewing the policy with stakeholders in the University, including deans, chancellors of regional campuses, and the Faculty Affairs Committee of University Senate. It was broadly discussed to identify any issues that might be of concern to the University community," Dunn says.

The new policy was then brought before the Board of Trustees, which approved the measure on May 18. The new policy supersedes Purdue University Executive Memorandum B-10: Policy on Intellectual Property.
Dunn says the revisions should increase the probability that intellectual property will be disclosed and brought to the public's benefit.

"Since the new policy was announced, the number of questions coming to me as the focal point for interpretation have increased quite a bit," Dunn says. "It's been rewarding to have the opportunity to answer questions when people have concerns or need clarification.

"Having a policy on intellectual property that is more understandable will help faculty, students and others know what steps they need to take. It will be easier to get their work into the pipeline so that it can be developed commercially and be of value to the public."

Other revisions to the policy include:

* Grants the University president the authority to reconvey intellectual property back to the inventor. In the past, an action by the Board of Trustees was required.

 *Clarifies University rights in faculty-owned educational and scholarly copyrighted material. 

*  Establishes University ownership of research data generated through the use of University resources.

To view the revised Policy on Intellectual Property (VIII.4.1), visit
Questions or comments regarding the policy can be directed to Dunn at or 49-46840.

This fall, the Office of Research Administration will develop and post a set of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the interpretation and implementation of the policy at



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