This policy describes University employees’ and others’ duty to disclose the development of software and patentable inventions emanating from research activities and their right to release software under an Open-Source License.
University Ownership. Intellectual property that is an invention or software created by University employees, students, post-doctoral or other fellows in the course of their research; or created by individuals, including students, or post-doctoral or other fellows, using substantial University resources, is owned by the University subject to the terms of written agreements (including grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements with the federal government ) between the University and third parties under which the University, solely or in collaboration, conducts research or other activities.
Duty to Report. All such persons must report the creation of an invention prior to any public disclosure to Technology Commercialization to enable the University to exercise its rights as owner of the invention and to ensure that its obligations to third parties and the federal government are satisfied. Researchers must follow Administrative Procedure: Reporting Inventions or Software to the University and Sponsors to make these reports.
All such persons may report the creation of any software to Technology Commercialization to enable the University to license the rights to an external organization or person.
Except when in conflict with obligations to sponsored research funders, software may be distributed under a commonly adopted open-source license only when:
- all contributors agree,
- the distribution will be public and easily accessible; and
- the faculty determine that open-source distribution is an appropriate way to maximize the adoption or impact of the software.
Faculty do not have any right to assign, license or transfer the patent rights in software. When distributing software under an open-source license, faculty must ensure that existing patent rights or patent applications related to the software are not affected, in any way, by the terms of the license. Faculty needing assistance with open source license selection, license compatibility, external ownership or other licensing concerns may contact Technology Commercialization.
All such persons planning to release software under an open-source license which integrates with University of Minnesota enterprise infrastructure (including logins, server IP addresses, data queries, etc.) must first report the software to Technology Commercialization and such software will be subject to a security assessment and may require approval from the Office of Information Technology (OIT) or another University office.
Copyrighted academic works, as defined in Board of Regents Policy: Copyright (PDF), are not covered by this policy.
Reason for Policy
To comply with Board of Regents Policy: Commercialization of Intellectual Property Rights (PDF). This policy protects the University's intellectual property (i.e., inventions or software), and helps ensure that the University (and, as applicable the individual) is complying with reporting requirements based on government funding and external sponsored research agreements. The University and the sponsor must be notified in a timely manner in order to exercise their legal rights to protect or market the intellectual property. This policy also reflects the University’s support of open-source distribution of software as a means to disseminate faculty scholarship.