MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

Guidelines: Patents & Copyrights

Ownership of patents relating to UROP students' inventions (including computer software inventions) and of copyrights in original computer software that UROP students author are treated differently depending on whether the student's work takes place at the Institute or off-campus at a sponsor's facility.

For UROP work on-campus, the student owns all intellectual property, except where the invention is subject to the terms of a sponsored research agreement or where the UROP student has made significant use of Institute-administered funds, space, or facilities. In such cases, the property is usually be owned by the Institute. In the event that MIT takes title, the student inventor will receive a share of MIT's royalties.

When UROP work is done off-campus at a sponsor's facilities, invention ownership rights are disposed of in accordance with the terms of the applicable agreement. Off-campus agreements may provide that ownership of inventions resides with the sponsor.

UROP students generally own the copyrights of original material they author (other than computer software). Copyrights of original material authored by UROP students working at a sponsor's facilities will be disposed of in accordance with the terms of the applicable agreement.

It is MIT policy that agreements governing intellectual property created by UROP students should explicitly give ownership of original material (other than computer software) authored by UROP students to the student where there is no conflict with other faculty or institutional obligations or program requirements.

Patenting an Invention

There are a number of routes open to those interested in patenting an invention. You may, subject to the limitations otherwise found in this policy statement, retain ownership and pay the legal costs yourself, or you may choose to relinquish ownership to MIT through the Technology Licensing Office (TLO), which will undertake the patenting costs and attempt to license the invention. As an inventor, you will be entitled to receive one third of the net royalties. Sometimes special arrangements can be made that permit MIT inventors to work with students at the Franklin Pierce Law Center to pursue patent protection and licensing as a co-venture.

UROPers interested in patents, confidentiality, and copyright issues may wish to consult the TLO publication, Guide to the Ownership, Distribution and Commercial Development of MIT Technology, available online, and consult with TLO at NE25-230, x3-6966.

Publishing Research Articles

It is not uncommon for UROPers to contribute to research articles. If you plan to publish an article about your UROP research, or discuss your research with a journalist, you must get prior approval from your faculty supervisor. For more information, contact UROP staff in Room 7-104.


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