Copyrights and Patents
Project reports and scholarly publications describing project activities and results are not ordinarily required by institutional policy or by provisions of the sponsored agreement to carry notice of copyright. However, if such publications contain copyright-protected material of others, permission to use that material should be obtained and the conditions of such permission, such as acknowledgement and notice of copyright, followed.
Other project-developed works protectable by copyright, especially including computer software and its documentation, should ordinarily be marked with a notice of copyright, i.e., “Copyright 200x. The Ohio State University Office of Sponsored Programs All Rights Reserved,” on all copies, including computer-readable copies and drafts. Only the year of the latest revision need be given in the notice. Here also, permission should be obtained to incorporate copyright-protected material of others. In the case of computer software, the terms of any licensing agreement under which it was made available also should be observed.
Where the sponsored agreement contemplates that works will be produced and delivered to the sponsor or provides that the sponsor will have the right to undertake the commercial development of any works that may be produced in the project, these works should be promptly reported and delivered to the sponsor in accordance with the terms of the sponsored agreement. Technology Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer (TCO) should be notified at the same time.
Where a project-developed work is thought to have potential for commercial development, that circumstance should be brought to the attention of TCO, who will work with researchers to evaluate and develop that potential. Under the Ohio State Policy on Patents and Copyrights, faculty authors receive a share of royalties or other income from project developed works.
Sponsored agreements received from federal government agencies and many other sponsors contain requirements for the identification, reporting, and management of intellectual property. Failure to report intellectual property can have a negative impact on a principal investigator’s ability to obtain federal grants in the future. Federal sponsors also have certain rights to use intellectual property evolving from these grants for research purposes. This includes intellectual property that is either conceived or developed as part of the sponsored project. Suggestions in project reports of additional research or development activities often contain such “conceptions” of project inventions.
The principal investigator for a project should review the research periodically to identify any discoveries or improvements that may have commercial potential. Technology Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer (TCO) can assist with this. Since public disclosure of an invention prior to filing for patent protection limits the university’s ability to obtain patent protection, it is important to notify TCO prior to any publication (posters, abstracts, theses, dissertations, journal articles, etc.) so the office can determine if it is appropriate to file for patent protection. Invention disclosure forms may be obtained from the office or on its website. If the intellectual property results in revenues, creators share in those revenues under the Ohio State Policy on Patents and Copyrights.
Many sponsored research contracts, particularly those from industrial sponsors, provide for sponsor review of any manuscripts prior to publication to ensure that the sponsor’s confidential information or inventions are not disclosed. Therefore, it is important to notify TCO or the project administrator prior to submitting an abstract or manuscript for publication.