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Joint Report of the Council and General Board on the ownership of intellectual property rights (IPR): Notice

The Research Policy Committee has set up a group, to be chaired by Professor W. R. Cornish, on the ownership of intellectual property rights. The Working Group, whose members are Professor R. H. Friend, Professor I. M. Leslie and Professor A. C. Minson, are publishing a consultative document requesting comments from Faculties and Departments, Councils of the Schools, and individual members of the Regent House. The text of the consultative paper is reproduced below. Responses should be in writing and should be sent by Monday, 19 May 2003, to Ms C. C. Hewetson, Secretary, Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRWG), 22 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QA.

A website has been established (http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/ipr/) which provides immediate access to the Joint Report and the appendices to which reference is made in the consultative document.

CONSULTATIVE DOCUMENT

To:

Chairs of Faculty Boards Heads of Departments
Chairs of Councils of the Schools of Arts and Humanities, Biological Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, Technology
Members of the Regent House

Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on the ownership of intellectual property rights

1.0 The Council and the General Board published, on 24 July 2002, a Joint Report on the ownership of intellectual property rights (Appendix I). The Report proposes a Policy which would relate to all IPRs generated by staff of the University in the course of their employment after a certain date and which would place ownership of certain of those rights in the University from the outset. The Policy would extend the same rule to IPRs generated without specific funding as already applies where funding is from such sources (Appendix II, Policy approved by the Regent House by Grace 6 of 21 March 2001).
1.1 The Report of 24 July was the subject of a lively Discussion in the Senate-House on 15 October 2002 (Appendix III, Discussion).
1.2 The Council received the remarks made at the Discussion of the Report (Reporter, 11 December 2002). They noted both the comments in support of the recommendations and those setting out concerns and referred all the remarks to the General Board and the Research Policy Committee for consideration.

2.0
The Consultation
 
2.1 The Research Policy Committee has set up a group to consult widely about the proposals and to report back to the Committee and the General Board by the end of the Easter Term 2003 whether, with modifications and safeguards, the proposed policy would be acceptable to the University. A website has been established (http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/ipr/) which provides immediate access to the reference documents which are the appendices to this consultative document.
2.2 The Working Group is being chaired by Professor W. R. Cornish. The other members of the group are Professor R. H. Friend, Professor I. M. Leslie, and Professor A. C. Minson.
2.3 This document institutes the process of consultation. The Working Group calls for comments on the proposed IPR ownership policy from Faculties and Departments in the University, Councils of the Schools, and individual members of the Regent House. The Group appreciates that, where views are expressed on behalf of Departments, Faculties, and Schools, there may be no unanimity. It would appreciate hearing of differences of view and of relative numbers or proportions supporting various positions. The views of Members of the Regent House who spoke in the Discussion will be taken into account by the group and so do not need to be repeated. There may be individuals who wish to comment on aspects of the matter on terms that their communications will be communicated only to Members of the Working Group and its Secretary. The Group is willing to receive such communications provided that they are clearly marked, 'Confidential to the Working Group'.

3.0
Matters of Concern
 
3.1 Without wishing to constrain comments, it would be particularly helpful to receive views on certain aspects of the proposed policy.
3.2 Respondents are invited to comment on the justifications offered for the policy and their relevance to possible modifications of its present form.

 Attention is drawn to:
 (i) encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship and efficient technology transfer (Report, paras. 1, 2, 6);
  (ii) removing inconsistencies of policy between different classes of employees (Report, para. 5);
  (iii) enhancing revenue sharing arrangements (Report, para. 2);
  (iv) allowing the University to maintain a comprehensive record of the commercialization of its IPR (Report, para. 15).

3.3 Respondents are invited to comment on the policy's application to different types of intellectual property.

 Attention is drawn to:
 (i) the definition of 'IPR' (Report, Annex para. 1) and whether further examples such as performance rights, database rights, plant variety rights, unregistered and registered design rights, and semiconductor topography rights should be explicitly referred to in the policy;
  (ii) the Report's statement that the policy 'will only apply to inventions made by employees in the normal course of their duties' (paras. 5, 12);
  (iii) the Report's statements regarding copyright, both in light of the Report of the Joint Working Party on Copyright (Appendix IV of this document, Reporter, 17 October 2001, Section 4) and the limited exception in the Policy for 'normal academic forms of publication, including books, articles, and lectures, or other similar works' (Report, paras. 4, 8, Annex Statement 2).

3.4 The relation between the policy and its implementation by the Research Services Division (RSD).

 In this respect attention is drawn to:
  (i) the commitment to ensure the willing support and co-operation of inventors (Report, paras. 1, 13);
  (ii) the guarantee of freedom to publish and the exclusion of central vetting (Report para. 1);
  (iii) fair settlement of disputes (Report, paras. 1, 14);
  (iv) the entitlement to place protected material in the public domain and accordingly to make use of IPR mechanisms e.g. open source licences;
  (v) protection for the inexperienced (Report, para. 6);
  (vi) the requirement to disclose all inventions within the existing procedures of the RSD (Report, paras. 12, 6);
  (vii) the exclusion of inventions made in the course of consultancy and cognate issues of conflicts of interest (Report, para. 12);
  (viii) the waiver of the University's entitlement to exploit inventions in favour of exploitation by the inventor (Report, para. 13).

3.5 The relevance for Cambridge of IPR Policies established in other leading universities in the UK and the US (Report paras. 7, 8, 11).
3.6 The method of introducing the Policy by asserting ownership of all intellectual property after an agreed date by all employees.

 In particular attention is drawn to
  (i) the legal advice that the introduction of the policy does not require an alteration of individual contracts of employment entered before November 1998 (Report, para. 10);
  (ii) the need to avoid breach of an implied term of trust and confidence between employer and employee in relation to past copyright and inventions (Report, paras. 9, 10).

3.7 The significance of the Policy in relation to arrangements for exploitation of IPRs by or through third parties including licensing of blocks of IPRs to outsiders.
 
4.0
Deadline for Responses
 
4.1 Responses should be in writing and should be sent by Monday, 19 May 2003, to Ms C. C. Hewetson, Secretary, Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRWG), 22 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QA.

APPENDICES

Appendix I : The Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on the ownership of intellectual property rights (Reporter, 24 July 2002)

Appendix II: Report of the General Board on the ownership of intellectual property rights generated by externally funded research (Reporter, 31 January 2001) and Notice (Reporter, 21 March 2001)

Appendix III: Report of the Discussion (Reporter, 30 October 2002)

Appendix IV: Report of the Joint Working Party on Copyright, Section 4 'Exploitation of copyright material created by staff and students' (Reporter, 17 October 2001)


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Cambridge University Reporter, 19 March 2003
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