Guidelines: Patents & Copyrights
UROP students own their 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 owned by the Institute. In the event that MIT takes title and the invention is licensed and commercialized, the student inventor will receive a share of MIT's royalties, if any.
When research work is done off-campus, it must be supervised by an MIT faculty member and cannot be at or for a private corporation or commercial entity, even a startup, to qualify for UROP. Invention ownership rights would typically be disposed of in accordance with the terms of the applicable written agreement between the student and the off-campus entity. Off-campus research agreements may provide that ownership of inventions resides with a sponsor other than MIT. If your UROP work is taking place off-campus and you are asked to sign agreements related to ownership of inventions, before signing you are strongly advised to bring the document to UROP staff in 7-104 for further review.
UROP students generally own the copyrights of original material they author (including computer software). Copyrights of in original material authored by MIT students working at a non-MIT facility could be disposed of in accordance with the terms of a written agreement between the student and the facility. Again, agreements given to UROP students to sign by a non-MIT organization should first be reviewed by UROP staff.
It is MIT policy that agreements governing intellectual property created by UROP students should explicitly give ownership of original material (including 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.
UROP students 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.