Policy on Patents and Copyrights | Policy 15.0

Tennessee Technological University acknowledges that the faculty and staff may from time to time conceive an idea or discover a process that could lead to the development of a patent or the production of copyrightable materials. The University encourages such activities by the faculty and staff and recognizes its responsibility to see that ideas and discoveries are administered for the best interest of all parties concerned, including the public. Since the results of research conducted as topics for M.S. theses and Ph.D. dissertations cannot be held confidential/proprietary, it is important that the research topics and results be open for public inspection. Further, it is critical that students not use work on sponsored research as their topic if the research is to be held as confidential/proprietary. We are working with TBR staff for an acceptable method of handling this issue.

NOTE: If there is any variance between Tennessee Technological University's Intellectual Property policy and Tennessee Board of Regent's (TBR) Intellectual Property policy, the TBR policy shall take precedence.

Statement of Policy

  1. Authorization
    The University is authorized to seek and hold patents and copyrights, to assign their rights, and to execute royalty-sharing agreements subject to the approval of the Chancellor or his designated representative. In executing this authority, the University will develop and implement a campus wide policy on patents and copyrights consistent with Tennessee Board of Regents Policy 5:01:06:00 dated September 24, 1982 and September 21, 1990.
  2. Committee on Patents and Copyrights
    The University shall create a committee to advise and assist the President in all matters involving patents, trademarks and copyrights. The committee shall consist of faculty and staff experienced in research, innovation and the production of copyrighted materials and a majority of its membership shall be selected from the faculty. The committee shall develop procedures for its conduct of business and all forms necessary for the implementation of this policy.
  3. Applicability
    This policy shall apply when any one of the following three factors exist:
    1. 1. University sponsorship (including released time) of a project leading to the discovery or development of materials
    2. 2. Significant use of the University's personnel, facilities, services or equipment (libraries excluded) in the discovery or development process; or
    3. 3. The funding of a project through the University by agencies or persons outside the University.
  4. Non-applicability
    The policy shall not apply when inventions, discoveries or copyrightable materials are developed solely through individual initiative or personal time and not involving significant use of University facilities or services. Non-fee library use is exempted from this policy. Also exempted are scholarly works such as journal articles, chapters in books and books that do not generate income.
  5. Responsibilities
    1. 1. Individuals to whom this policy applies shall promptly disclose to the University discoveries or invention(s) and copyrightable materials for evaluation and action by the Committee on Patents and Copyrights.
    2. 2. The University, acting through its Advisory Committee on Patents and Copyrights, shall (1) act on disclosures with reasonable promptness and good faith and (2) notify the affected person(s) promptly whenever it decides to pursue, abandon or seek commercialization of an invention or copyrightable materials.
    3. 3. It is the responsibility of a student who is employed by outside entities to resolve any conflicts between this policy and provisions of agreements with an employer before beginning any work at the University that may lead to the development of intellectual property.
    4. 4. If a student makes a patentable invention or develops copyrightable materials while in a class that is, or may be subject to the University's ownership in accordance with the Policy on Patents and Copyrights, the student will disclose the patentable invention or copyrightable material to the University. All faculty members teaching courses in which students do work that may lead to patentable inventions or copyrightable material should inform the students of the existence of (1) any relationships between the University and outside organizations or companies that may have a right to any invention and (2) the existence of the Policy on Patents and Copyrights.
  6. Income Sharing
    Income shall be shared, net of the costs of obtaining, licensing, defending and administering patents, trademarks and copyrights. Income sharing should be proportional to the percent of effort of the individual(s) and unit(s) involved.
    1. 1. Inventor(s)' Share of Income - In no case shall an inventor(s)' share of the net income be less than 50 percent for patents and 50 percent for copyrights. Percentages above 50 percent may be recommended by the committee for consideration by the President or the President's designee.
    2. 2. University's Share of Income - The remaining 50 percent of net income shall be shared as follows: 20 percent to the department(s) or unit(s) which sponsored the development of the intellectual property, 10 percent to the origination college(s) and 20 percent to the Patents and Copyrights Account maintained in the Office of Research.
    3. 3. Agreement Relative to Income Sharing - The inventor(s) and unit(s) involved shall have written, signed agreements relative to the distribution of income prior to approaching the committee to pursue a patent or copyright.
  7. License
    Where University sponsorship or significant University resources are involved, the agreement with an individual shall provide the University an exclusive license, and the University shall provide for reservation to the Tennessee Board of Regents a nonexclusive, irrevocable license in the invention, discovery, or copyrightable materials with power to grant licenses for all governmental and educational purposes.
  8. Waiver and Assignment of Rights
    Nothing in this policy shall preclude mutually agreed on contractual arrangements between the University and an individual wherein either party may agree to waive rights to patents, discoveries or copyrightable items. Furthermore, the general obligation of faculty members to produce scholarly and creative works shall not for purposes of this policy be construed as an institutional assignment affecting title claims to inventions, discoveries or copyrightable materials.
  9. Appeals Procedure
    All decisions of the Advisory Committee on Patents and Copyrights may be appealed in the following manner:
    1. Executive Officer of the Patents and Copyrights Committee - Appeals may be directed to the Executive Officer of the committee by communicating in writing the substance of the appeal within thirty (30) days of notification of the committee's decision. The Executive Officer will establish, within ten (10) days of receipt of the appeal, a three-person panel consisting of one member of the committee on Patents and Copyrights and two other faculty or staff members of the University who have a knowledge of patents and copyrights. The Appeals Committee will elect a Chairperson and will review all materials and render a decision within ten (10) days.
    2. Further Appeals - If an individual wishes to appeal further, the policies and procedures of Tennessee Technological University and the Tennessee Board of Regents will be followed.
  10. Definitions
    1. Individuals (Persons)
      1. Faculty - All full-time and part-time employees who hold academic rank and who are directly engaged in departmental instruction, research or public service.
      2. Staff - All full-time and part-time employees who do not hold academic rank.
      3. Students - Full-time and part-time graduate or undergraduate, regardless of whether the student receives financial aid or is employed by Tennessee Technological University.
      4. Consultants - Individuals consulting to the University.
    2. Net Costs - All direct costs of obtaining, licensing, defending and administering patents, trademarks and copyrights.
    3. Copyrightable Materials - Those materials or works which reasonably appear to qualify for protection under the statutes. Copyrightable materials include, but are not limited to: (1) books, texts, glossaries, bibliographies, study guides, laboratory manuals, syllabi, tests and proposals; (2) computer programs; (3) films, filmstrips, charts, transparencies and other visual aids; (4) lectures, musical or dramatic compositions, unpublished scripts; and (5) video or audio tapes, cassettes and (6) student theses and dissertations.
      1. Ownership of a thesis or dissertation generated by research performed in whole or part by a student with financial support in the form of wages, salaries, stipend(s) or grant(s) from funds administered by the University should be determined in accordance with the terms of the support agreement, or in the absence of such terms, will become the property of the University. Copyright ownership of a thesis or dissertation will reside with the University if there is significant use of University personnel, facilities, services or equipment as defined in Section 10.5 (Significant Use).
    4. Patentable Materials - Those innovations, inventions, discoveries or developments which reasonably appear to qualify for protection under the patent laws of the United States or Protection statutes. The United States Code Annotated, Title 35, Section 101, as amended, provides that "whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefore, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title."
    5. Significant Use - Significant use of University personnel, facilities, services or equipment shall be defined to include a cost to the institution in the amount of $2,500 or more (in 2001 dollars). Use of University microcomputers is exempted.


Patents and Copyrights Committee 11/20/97
TTU Administrative Council 1/21/98
Tennessee Board of Regents 3/11/98