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Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property and Commercialization has many aspects. What follows is a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding product development and commercialization.

The Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university’s academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The OTC is located in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2021, OTC signed 159 license and option agreements that included 236 technologies, received 394 technology disclosures, and was issued 187 U.S. patents and 42 non-US patents. OTC is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact otcip@prf.org for more information.

Intellectual property at Purdue is governed by these primary policies:

  • Intellectual Property Policy (I.A.1) — The statement of University policy, principles and administrative procedures relating to the ownership of patents, copyrights and other rights in inventions, as well as written and recorded materials.
    • Patent Policy — Purdue owns the rights to all inventions made in the course of employment by the University or through the use of University resources.
    • Trademark/Service Mark Policy — Purdue owns all rights related to an item of intellectual property or a University program of education, service, public relations, research, or training.
    • Copyright Policy — All rights in copyrightable works remain with the creator unless:
      • The works were created pursuant to the terms of a University agreement with an external party.
      • The works were created as a specific, written requirement of employment or as an assigned University duty.
      • The works created were specifically commissioned by the University.
      • The creator of the copyrightable work made more than incidental use of University resources.
      • The copyrightable work is also patentable and/or is associated with a University trademark.
    • Tangible Research Property Policy — Pertains to perceptible items produced in the course of research. Purdue owns all rights to tangible research property related to an individual’s employment responsibilities and/or developed with support from University resources.
  • Policy on Use of Copyrighted Materials for Education and Research Purposes (I.A.3) — The University and its stakeholders share an interest both in the protection of copyrighted works and in the use of copyrighted works in the daily pursuit of learning, discovery and engagement.
  • Policy on Individual Financial Conflicts of Interest (III.B.2)
  • Policy on Conflicts of Commitment and Reportable Outside Activities (III.B.1) 

IP is managed by OTC, the University’s Sponsored Program Services and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

OTC handles all patents, copyrights, trademarks and tangible research property issues. Some OTC roles are to:

  • Solicit and analyze invention disclosures from faculty, students and staff
  • Analyze commercialization feasibility of University intellectual property and develop commercialization strategies
  • License tangible research property for commercial use
  • License patents and copyrights for commercial use
  • Facilitate faculty and technology startups
  • Advise faculty on IP issues
  • Foster inventor participation in the commercialization process
  • Educate Purdue researchers about the commercialization process at Purdue

Sponsored Program Services manages all research relationships on behalf of the University and enters into agreements with research sponsors as to how intellectual property developed under a research project will be administered.

The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships manages all conflict of interest issues, including consulting arrangements and faculty-owned business startups. For more information, see faculty-owned and -operated businesses: Policy and Procedures.

One of Purdue’s priorities is to maintain an environment that encourages the development of new products with commercial potential. Achieving this requires a combination of creativity, meticulous application of science and technology, and an understanding of the dynamics of a global market. If you are a Purdue faculty or staff member interested in patenting a technology that you are just starting to develop or have been working on for some time, it’s never too early to get familiar with policies and processes through the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC). OTC is a division of the Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) that specializes in taking you through the technology transfer process.
Purdue offers students of all disciplines encouragement and tangible opportunities to learn about entrepreneurship. As a result, Purdue has experienced an increased interest in the ownership of course-generated intellectual property that may have commercial value. Purdue has issued a memo clarifying Intellectual Property Policy (I.A.1) regarding ownership of intellectual property that was created by students as part of their course credit (“Course-Generated Intellectual Property”). Several practical scenarios in the generation of intellectual property occur at Purdue. Certain course projects may involve a company sponsor that provides students with practical experience in solving real-world problems. These collaborating companies may want written agreements transferring intellectual property ownership or license rights resulting from such course projects. Alternatively, in select instances, a Purdue student may have independent entrepreneurial aspirations of her/his own and, accordingly, wishes to establish a clear ownership path. There are parts of Policy I.A.1 that have caused difficulty for students attempting to apply the policy in these and similar scenarios. In order to clarify the application of Policy I.A.1, the Committee on Patent and Copyrights advised, and Purdue President Mitch Daniels approved, the following clarification: The statement titled “Ownership of University Course-Generated Intellectual Property Created by Students” clarifies that the University claims no ownership rights to course-generated intellectual property created by Purdue students, provided that:
  • Student innovator(s) made use of resources that are both routinely made available by the college/department administering the University course and provided to all students enrolled in the course in an equitable manner.
  • The relevant student(s) are not paid by the University, whether through internal funds or under a grant or contract with a third party.
  • There are no pre-existing obligations for Purdue in connection with such course-generated intellectual property.
Faculty are in the best position to help students understand ownership rights related to outside funding or other support within a specific course. The course syllabus is the ideal place to clarify student rights to ownership for the work performed in a course. If questions arise regarding the University’s interest in, or possible ownership claim in, course-generated intellectual property developed by one or more Purdue students, please direct them to the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships. The full policy can be found in our 2013 statement regarding student intellectual property (PDF).

Helpful University Resources

Questions about IP Developed During Outside Activities?

What's the Responsibility of a Purdue Inventor?

What is the Policy for Individual Financial Conflicts of Interest?

What is the Policy for Conflicts of Commitment and Reportable Outside Activities?

Have a Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment?

What are the Disclosure and Reporting Requirements?