Inventions and Discoveries

Occasionally, students that use the facilities or resources of the University will make discoveries or inventions that have commercial application or other significance. Such inventions are most likely to occur in a laboratory or research team environment, but can in principle happen in many ways. University Statute 18 governs the policy with respect to discoveries and inventions.

Statute 18 identifies the inventions, discoveries, and software for which the University becomes the owner. It may grant the University the right to students' inventions that were supported by substantial aid from University resources or from funds the University administers. It does not give the University ownership of the work of students merely because they are enrolled at the University or because they develop the work while they are in residence. Inventors, discoverers or software authors who create intellectual property with commercial potential using substantial University support, however, have an obligation to disclose their discovery or creation even if there is uncertainty about the eventual value of the property. Questions about the reach of this policy in particular situations and invention disclosures themselves should be directed in the first instance to the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (http://polsky.uchicago.edu/). In case of doubt, an invention disclosure should be filed as soon as a potential discovery or creation is realized.

Students who have intellectual property claimed by the University and think the discovery or creation should be exempt from Statute 18 because the work did not meet its conditions may present a case to the Committee on Intellectual Property. A representative from the Office of Campus and Student Life will sit in on the Committee's deliberations. After hearing such cases, the Committee will make a recommendation to the President as to the appropriate ownership of the intellectual property.