Protection of Intellectual Property

Ownership: Unless it has specifically waived its rights, the University holds the intellectual property rights to patentable inventions and discoveries, and any associated technology, that result primarily from the use of its facilities or from the activity of its officers while engaged in its service. Similarly, the University claims the copyright on any work of authorship created with the substantial use of its resources beyond the level commonly provided to faculty, for its use, or subject to contractual obligations requiring the copyright be in the name of the University.

Assignment of Inventions: The University requires all full-time faculty and all salaried officers of research, including full-time postdoctoral officers and student officers of research, to sign an agreement that they will assign to the University their rights to any patentable invention or discovery conceived of or reduced to practice in the course of conducting research. No one may be appointed in a category covered by this requirement without completing an assignment agreement.

Graduate students who do not hold appointments as student officers must also sign the agreement if they are supported by most types of external funding. In addition, other faculty and officers of research, other officers and staff, and other students are required to execute assignments of intellectual property rights to the University if required by the University’s patent and copyright policies.

Information on the purpose of the assignment agreement and who must complete it may be obtained from Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV). Questions relating to the processing of appointments with the assignment agreement should be addressed to the Assistant Provost for Academic Appointments for Morningside appointments or to the Office of the Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences for appointments at the Medical Center. A copy of the form may be found at the CTV website.

Invention Reports: The University also requires the submission of Invention Reports to CTV. An Invention Report provides CTV with basic information about the invention, helps CTV assess the patentability and commercial potential, and supports the patent filing decision. Once the intellectual property has been protected, a CTV Technology Licensing Officer can begin working with the inventor to commercialize the invention.

CTV strongly encourages inventors to submit an Invention Report before any public disclosures (lecture, posters, presentations, etc.) that may adversely affect the patentability of an invention. However, even if an inventor has already disclosed the idea, it is still possible to receive protection. Contact CTV for more information.

Intellectual Property Resources and Guidance