General University Reference Utility
Guideline IPG01 FACULTY GUIDANCE ON STUDENT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
RIGHTS (Formerly RAG12)
Policy Steward: Office of the Vice President for Research
The advent of heightened interest around the issue of ownership of the
intellectual property (IP) created, invented or discovered by
students has created a much more complex situation for students,
faculty and providers of sponsorship and case studies. The issues revolve
around the following questions on IP ownership:
- What if students make an invention in a course they are
- Are grad students different from undergraduate students?
- What if undergrads work "for free" in a University laboratory to
- What about student interns, both at Penn State and at other
- What about undergraduate theses?
- What about situations where students develop design changes or
problem solving in case-based learning on problems submitted by companies?
To deal with these challenges, and to create a practical and
comprehensive policy, the forms detailed under "Special Student Intellectual
Property Agreement Form" have been developed.
As a simple summary of the principal points underlying the forms:
- If any student, grad or undergrad, taking any course for credit
develops IP, the IP belongs to the student and an IP assignment agreement is
- no matter who paid for the course.
- without regard for whether they are graduate students or
- except for 600-level “research courses” for graduate theses.
- If graduate students are doing any research in a University facility,
all IP belongs to the University and an IP assignment agreement is
- If undergraduate students are working in a research setting or in an instructional capacity,
- if they are paid for the work in a research setting, the IP belongs to the University.
- if they are doing it in a for-credit course, the IP is
- if they are working for "experience," and they do not sign an IP
assignment agreement, the IP is theirs.
- If students develop IP in solving projects in a "for credit" course
using case-based learning based on externally-submitted (company, institute, or
- the IP belongs to the students if there is no agreement to the
- if sponsors want to retain IP rights, they need to have students
assign their IP rights by signing an appropriate agreement.
- it is the student's choice to participate in projects requiring
them to assign their rights.
- students must have a "non assignment" option in every
- Summer students/interns at Penn State and Penn State students at
other institutions need to sign the appropriate IP agreement for the host
- For required senior theses, or seminar with a research component, the
student must have available an option that allows them to retain their
- Medical, law and MBA students retain their IP rights, and faculty
should be cognizant of which projects require IP protection in their
- For "works of art", including poetry, sculpture, graphic arts,
painting, etc., all rights rest with the creator unless there is some specific
agreement/contract which designates the effort as a "work for
- If a company sponsors student research in connection with a "for
credit" course, they need to be aware that the results generated,
- are provided "as is" with no legal representations.
- are not the work of the University.
- need to be identified as student research performed without
- require approval in writing before publication.
Forms are available, in the policy guideline IPG02,
Special Student Intellectual Property Agreement
Forms to deal with all of the situations requiring assignment, or
notification of the sponsors of the research. Faculty have the responsibility
to get the appropriate IP agreement signed.
For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the
IP01– Ownership and Management of Intellectual Property
IPG02 - Special Student Intellectual
Property Agreement Forms
Effective Date: January 7, 2013
Date Approved: September 14, 2012
Published: January 7, 2013 (Editorial changes- November 19, 2015)
Most Recent Changes:
- November 19, 2015 - Editorial changes. Title changes FROM "Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School" TO "Vice President for Research."
Revision History (and effective dates):
- October 25, 2013 - Editorial changes. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.
- January 7, 2013- Policy moved from the Research Administration section, formerly named RAG12 - Faculty Guidance On Student Intellectual Property Rights. Revised, moved to new Intellectual Property section and and renamed Policy IPG01 - Faculty Guidance On Student Intellectual Property Rights.
- New Policy Guideline in Research Administration Guideline section