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Anschutz Medical Campus

University of Colorado Denver
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Info for Undergraduates


As an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado, there are several types of intellectual property (IP) you might create during your time at CU. Below are guidelines to help you understand what rights you have in IP you help to create, under federal patent and copyright law and CU policy. The following guidelines cover software, creative and scholarly works, educational materials, and discoveries and patents.

CU supports entrepreneurship and creative/inventive activity by undergraduates – please expand the sections below to learn more about your rights in different types of IP created while you are an undergraduate student at CU. If it’s unclear whether the university could have an ownership interest in your work, please contact the Technology Transfer Office for clarification.

Students are encouraged to seek commercialization assistance from campus and community organizations such as:

CU-Boulder: CU New Venture ChallengeATLASCatalyze CUStartupCUCU Biotech ClubMusic Entrepreneurship CenterEntrepreneurial Law ClinicIdea Forge and other campus entrepreneurship centers/resources

CU Denver: Business Plan competition and business incubator, Inworks

UCCS: El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization (EPIIC)Sports/Outdoor Business Plan Competition

Community: Center for Space Entrepreneurship (eSpace)TechStarsSpark BoulderUnreasonable InstituteGalvanize

Meetups: Startup ColoradoNew Tech ColoradoCoFoundersLab, and other local meetup groups

Also visit the COIN Resource Center and the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to learn more about entrepreneurial resources available in Colorado.


 

 Project Examples

 

 Software

Examples

Smartphone apps, test-grading software

Ownership

Usually owned by creators, see Details below.

Details

In most cases, undergraduate students at the University of Colorado will own any software they create. Exceptions:

  • If the software is a part of a textbook or other education program, the university may have an interest in the software if it meets the conditions in CU’s Educational Materials policy (see Educational Materials section below).

  • If the software was developed in collaboration with a CU faculty or staff member or in the course of employment at CU, or was made with substantial use of CU resources (beyond the resources normally available to undergraduates), the software may fall under CU’s Discoveries & Patents policy (see Discoveries and Patents section below) and the university may have an interest in the software if it meets the conditions of that policy. Substantial use of University resources does not include (a) participation in University courses; or (b) use of unrestricted University of Colorado funds under $5,000; or (c) use of commonly available facilities such as student shops, libraries or other general purpose facilities.  If it’s unclear whether the university could have an ownership interest, please contact the Innovations Office for clarification and next steps.

CU-Boulder                                                                        CU Denver

CU Anschutz                                                                      UCCS

If neither of the policies described above applies, the creators of the software are the sole owners, and may sell or commercialize the software as desired. Software owners must still abide by CU licensing guidelines for use of any CU trademarks and logos.​​

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 Creative and Scholarly Works

Examples

Artwork, literature, musical compositions; scientific or scholarly manuscripts

Ownership

Owned by creators

Details

Undergraduate students at all University of Colorado campuses (like faculty and other employees) are the owners of any original creative or scholarly works they create, with the exception of certain types of educational materials and software, including works created as university employees, where a work is made with substantial use of university resources, or the work is part of a larger work over which the university has rights and intends to exercise them (see Educational Materials or Software sections on this page) or where a student specifically agrees in writing that the university will own the work. Substantial use of University resources does not include (a) participation in University courses; or (b) use of unrestricted University of Colorado funds under $5,000; or (c) use of commonly available facilities such as student shops, libraries or other general purpose facilities.  If it’s unclear whether the university could have an ownership interest, please contact the Innovations Office for clarification and next steps.

CU-Boulder                                                                        CU Denver

CU Anschutz                                                                      UCCS

Commercialization

Creators are free to sell or commercialize these works as desired (but must still abide by CU licensing guidelines for use of any CU trademarks and logos).

Learn more about copyright at CU​.​​

2

 Educational Materials

Examples

Textbooks, tests, syllabi

Ownership

Usually owned by creators, see Details below

Details

Under CU’s Administrative Policy Statement on Intellectual Property That is Educational Materials, students who are employed by the university will be bound by this policy, except that students who hold awards such as scholarships or fellowships through the university on which a funding body has placed restrictions as to intellectual property will be bound by the terms of the award.

While current copyright law generally allocates ownership rights in educational materials to the university as an employer, the University of Colorado assigns any ownership it has in educational materials to the creators of such materials, unless:

  • production of such materials is a part of a sponsored program

  • materials are created under the specifically assigned duties of non-faculty employees

  • substantial university resources were used in creating the educational materials; or

  • materials were specifically commissioned in a contract with the university, or done as part of an explicitly designated assignment made in writing.

Substantial use of University resources does not include (a) participation in University courses; or (b) use of unrestricted University of Colorado funds under $5,000; or (c) use of commonly available facilities such as student shops, libraries or other general purpose facilities. 

In the cases above, student-developed educational materials may be owned by the university if the student is employed by CU. A student who is not employed by the university and has not used substantial university resources to develop educational materials will own the materials she or he creates, unless the student's work is part of a larger work over which the university has rights and intends to exercise them.

If it’s unclear whether the university could have an ownership interest in your work, please contact the Innovations Office for clarification:

CU-Boulder                                                                        CU Denver

CU Anschutz                                                                      UCCS

Commercialization

Except for the cases covered above, creators are free to sell or commercialize these works as desired (but must still abide by CU licensing guidelines for use of any CU trademarks and logos).

Learn more about copyright at CU​.​

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 Discoveries and Patent

Examples

New drugs, diagnostic tests or medical devices; mechanical devices, novel materials, many other types

Ownership

Depends on circumstances, see Details below

Details

1. Coursework

The University has no ownership rights in discoveries created by a student solely for the purpose of satisfying course requirements, unless:

  • the student creates the discovery with someone covered under CU’s Discoveries & Patents policy  (faculty, employees)

  • the student assigns ownership rights in the discovery to the university in writing; or

  • assignment of such ownership rights to the university is required for participation in a course.

NOTE: in some undergraduate courses, such as senior design projects, etc., students may be required to assign their IP ownership rights to a company when a project involves collaboration with an industry partner. Please read these documents carefully, and consult your course instructor if you have any concerns.

2. Other Student Discoveries

The university will make no ownership claim on discoveries created by a student who is not employed by the university or has not used substantial university resources to develop IP, unless the student's work is part of a discovery in which the university already has an interest (through its faculty or employees).

  • A student who is employed by the university and who creates a discovery developed in the course of the assigned duties of their university employment will be bound by the Discoveries & Patents policy, and will be treated as an inventor under the policy.

  • A student who holds an award such as a scholarship or a fellowship through the university and who creates a discovery developed during the course of the award will be bound by the Discoveries & Patents policy, and will be treated as an inventor under the policy.

  • A student who creates a discovery by making substantial use of university resources will be bound by the Discoveries & Patents policy, and will be treated as an inventor under the policy. “Substantial use of university resources” means use of CU funds, programs, equipment, space or other physical assets that go above and beyond those customarily and currently provided to undergraduate students.  Substantial use of University resources does not include (a) participation in University courses; or (b) use of unrestricted University of Colorado funds under $5,000; or (c) use of commonly available facilities such as student shops, libraries or other general purpose facilities.

  • A student who takes part in a discovery in which the university already has an interest through its faculty or employees will be bound by the Discoveries & Patents policy, and will be treated as an inventor under the policy.

If it’s unclear whether the university could have an ownership interest in your work, please contact the Technology Transfer Office for clarification:

CU-Boulder                                                                        CU Denver

CU Anschutz                                                                      UCCS

3. Distribution of Royalties

In cases where the university has an interest in discoveries created by a student, the student will be treated as an inventor under the Discoveries & Patents policy, and will be entitled to share in the distribution of royalties as provided in the policy. The lab share of any student covered by the policy will be directed to such student's supervisor's lab account; these funds should be directed to furthering the student inventor’s research for the duration of the student's involvement at CU.

Commercialization

If the university has an ownership interest in a student-created discovery as described above, commercialization will be managed by the Technology Transfer Office, including patent protection and licensing to an existing company or a startup company. Students are eligible to participate in startup companies commercializing university IP as founders, advisors and company management, but all startup companies licensing university IP must follow CU’s guidelines for startup companies. In the event that the Technology Transfer Office elects not to pursue commercialization of the discovery, the discovery may be offered for release to the inventors – upon completion of the release process, the inventors are free to commercialize the discovery as desired (but must still abide by CU licensing guidelines for use of any CU trademarks and logos).

If the university does not have an ownership interest in a student-created discovery, the student may request to opt in to the CU technology commercialization process through the Technology Transfer Office, which may grant this request at its discretion. This request must be sponsored by the student’s department. If accepted, the student will be required to assign ownership of the discovery to the university, the discovery will be managed as if it fell under the Discoveries & Patents policy, and the student will treated as an inventor under that policy.

If the university does not have an ownership interest in a student-created discovery, the student is free to sell or commercialize the discovery as desired (but must still abide by CU licensing guidelines for use of any CU trademarks and logos).

Learn more about technology transfer at CU​.​

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