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Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) created since 21st July 2016 at the University of Melbourne is governed in accordance with section 13 of the University of Melbourne Statute. IP created prior to that continues to be governed by Statute 14.1. This IP information is further supplemented by information on authorship and the licencing of inventions. The University’s Intellectual Property Principles have been under review for some time and it is not clear whether any new principles are planned to replace them.

Except in the case of teaching materials and specified agreements as defined in University of Melbourne Statute, the University has no rights to IP developed by students. However, students have an obligation to comply with the terms of the University’s Invention Disclosure Policy where the relevant activity giving rise to the intellectual property comes within the terms of the policy.

Invention Disclosure is mandatory for staff and students where:

  • such disclosure is a requirement specified in a third party agreement (e.g. a research grant agreement or research contract), where the University has a contractual obligation to disclose certain intellectual property to a research sponsor; and
  • the invention disclosed has the potential to be developed for commercial application.

Section 13 of the University Statute and Statute 14.1 deal only with the treatment of IP between the University and the student; the IP rights of a student undertaking research training at an affiliated institution may well be governed by the IP policy of that institution, whether reflected in the affiliation statute with the University or in the student’s terms of engagement with the affiliated institution.

Students working on team-based projects, on collaborative projects with their supervisors or on ongoing programs in large research centres, such as cooperative research centres, also need to be aware of the IP rights and responsibilities of all those involved. The rights associated with joint contribution need to be respected, and staff and students should ensure that intellectual property matters are discussed, defined, agreed and documented, subject to the terms of section 13 of the University Statute and Statute 14.1 and related principles documented in the information of authorship and invention disclosure.

Where students have created IP whilst engaged in an activity which is the subject of a specified agreement (as defined in the Statutes), or where the activity giving rise to the intellectual property otherwise comes within the terms of the University’s invention disclosure policy, those students are entitled to be treated in the same way as academic staff for the purpose of sharing in commercial benefits, including financial returns, from the commercialisation of the IP. In determining financial returns, the University will take the following into account:

  • the requirement that student creators be treated equitably and fairly in relation to sharing the benefits of commercialisation of IP;
  • the degree of intellectual input from University staff (including supervisors) and third parties;
  • the nature and extent of any University or third party IP accessed or used by the student; and
  • the nature and extent of any use a student makes of University facilities.

Where the relevant parties are unable to agree on the determination of the financial returns to be made to students, the matter may be referred to the Vice-Chancellor or nominee for advice and mediation. In the absence of agreement, the Vice-Chancellor will determine the matter. The Vice-Chancellor must ensure that the interests of student creators are properly and fairly taken into account. To enable this to occur, the Vice-Chancellor may refer the matter to an external party for advice and subsequently rely on that advice.

Further Information

Advice and Support

The Student Union provides free advice to all students at the University of Melbourne regarding Intellectual Property.

For advice and assistance regarding University processes you can contact us here.

The UMSU Legal Service may be able to provide referrals for more complex matters related to Intellectual Property rights and ownership for external institutions and support with contract negotiations.