Intellectual property

Intellectual Property (IP) can include know-how, inventions, results, copyright, patents and software. It can arise from many different activities within the University, including unfunded and publicly funded research activities, in which case it will normally belong to the University, “sponsored or collaborative research”, where ownership is a matter of contractual negotiation, student projects both sponsored and non-sponsored and general academic endeavours. Furthermore it can be divided into that existing prior to entering into a contract ("Background IP") and that arising as a result of a defined project after entering into a contract ("Foreground IP").

In general, under its employment conditions, the University owns all IP created or devised by its employees and wishes to ensure that it is properly handled in order to maximise its value for the benefit of the University, the staff concerned and the wider economy. It is therefore important that all staff are aware of what to do if they have created IP and follow the correct procedures to ensure its protection and exploitation. See the University's Intellectual Property Regulations for a full account and consult with the University's Intellectual Property Manager as soon as you become aware that you might have IP of commercial value.

From the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. Intellectual property is divided into two categories:

  • Industrial property
    which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source
  • Copyright
    which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

What are intellectual property rights?

Intellectual property rights or IPR are specific legal rights which protect the owners of IP. IPR can be subdivided into the following major categories:

  • Patent
    A legal monopoly lasting 20 years granted in exchange for describing an invention and paying fees to the Patent Office. A patent position is destroyed by public disclosure of the idea before a patent application is filed (except for a short grace period in the US). Think patent before you publish.
  • Copyright
    Applies to literary and dramatic works, artistic and musical works, audio and video recordings, broadcasts and cable transmissions. Copyright is also the usual way of protecting software, although some software may be patented if it is a functional part of an invention. Copyright arises automatically; it does not need to be applied for; and, in most formats, lasts 70 years after the death of the author.
  • Database right
    Applies to databases which are not protected by copyright.
  • Design right
    Applies to aspects of the shape or configuration of an article. Unregistered design right (which covers computer chips, for example) can protect internal or external features. In the case of registered designs, the features must appeal to and be judged by the eye.
  • Trade mark
    A mark (logo) or other distinctive sign applied to or associated with products or services, which does not describe the products or services.
  • Confidential information
    Knowledge which only you possess and which you have only revealed under a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement.
'Algol' by Harry Mercer (1968) outside of Goodricke College, Heslington East

Funding, grants and contracts

Who to contact

Matthew Just
Intellectual Property and Legal Manager
Matthew.Just@york.ac.uk
9435191 
(Please dial 943 from campus as Matthew is based on York Science Park)

Michael Barber
Contracts and Sponsorship Manager
Michael.Barber@york.ac.uk
9435154
(Please dial 943 from campus as Michael is based on York Science Park)