University makes significant changes to intellectual property policies

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State has made significant changes to its intellectual property policies. Effective Friday (Dec. 16), intellectual property that results from industry-sponsored research no longer is mandated to be owned by the University.

"In short we are doing it because we consider the net present value of the interactions and relationships that our faculty and students have with industrial professionals to be very important and therefore greater than the apparent future value of the proceeds from such intellectual property," said Hank Foley, vice president for Research. "In fields from engineering to business, faculty who have contact with industrial professionals and who work on both real-world and academic problems are even more effective teachers and mentors, and education is our core business."

Foley said that in addition our nation currently is in desperate need of innovation and an economic lift. In contrast to earlier times, research universities now are expected to be the engines of innovation. "Our goal then is to flatten any and all barriers or impediments to innovation and that includes our own past stance on intellectual property," Foley said.

This change comes after more than a year of careful analysis and consultation with stakeholders and colleagues. It includes a seven-point plan for reinvigoration of intellectual property practices:

-- Create an Office of Technology Management from the Industrial Research Office and the Intellectual Property Office. This step already has taken place. In July, the University announced the formation of the new office. More information about this can be found at online.

-- Spur growth in corporately funded research with more flexible intellectual property policies.

-- Manage master agreements in a way that provides real value to the corporation and the University by building end-to-end partnerships.

-- Create a culture of entrepreneurship at Penn State by creating more trust, ownership and excitement among the faculty.

-- Raise revenue by aggressively marketing existing Penn State intellectual property.

-- Rename and explain the "conflict of interest policy" to make it easier for faculty to understand and adhere to the policy.

-- Co-locate the new Small Business Development Center with the Office of Technology Management, Office of Sponsored Programs, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, Centre County Industrial Development Corp., incubators and Innovation Park.

Penn State’s expenditures on research and development totaled about $804 million for the year ending June 30, 2011, up 3 percent from the previous year, making Penn State one of the top universities in research expenditures each year.

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated December 19, 2011