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Digital Research Data Sharing at WashU


Scientific research at major academic research institutions today is carried out in diverse technical and scientific fields. Such research can produce findings and results of exceptional academic interest as well as applications having a broad range of public uses and benefits. The university has a duty to promote the widest possible distribution of academic and public benefits and to facilitate the development of intellectual property, both to meet its social obligations as a tax-exempt institution of higher learning and to meet its obligations to disseminate the benefits of research funded by public grants and contracts. Effective dissemination and commercialization of such technology may require protection and licensing of university intellectual property.

  1. General Statement of Ownership. Except as noted below, all intellectual property (including lab notebooks, cell lines, software, human samples and other tangible research property) shall be owned by the university if significant university resources were used or if it is created pursuant to a research project funded through corporate, federal or other external sponsors administered by the university. Creators will provide, upon request by the university, assignments or other documents necessary to perfect the university’s ownership rights. Generally, creators and research investigators will retain custody of tangible research property while at the university.
  2. Exceptions to the General Statement of Ownership. The creator shall retain ownership of the following:
    1. All intellectual property developed without a significant use of university resources and without corporate, federal or other external sponsorship;
    2. All rights in artistic, literary and scholarly intellectual property, such as scholarly books, articles, and other publications (including those in electronic form), works of art, literature and music recordings are owned by their creators despite the use of university resources so long as such works are neither created under the direction and control of the university, nor developed in the performance of a sponsored research or other third party agreement; and
    3. All copyright in papers, theses and dissertations written as a student to earn credit in university courses or otherwise to satisfy university degree requirements.
  3. Other Ownership Options. Upon mutual agreement, a creator may assign intellectual property he or she would otherwise own under this policy to the university to be managed by the Office of Technology Management. Creators may dedicate their university-owned inventions or discoveries to the public domain, thereby foreclosing the possibility of patenting and/or licensing, provided there is no conflict with the desires of co-creators, third party or university rights, or applicable laws and regulations. If the university cannot, or decides not to, proceed in a timely manner to protect and/or license university-owned intellectual property, it shall, upon written request by the inventor(s) and to the extent permitted by law and third party agreements, assign ownership of either domestic only or domestic and foreign intellectual property rights to the Inventors while retaining research and education rights and obtaining protection from future disputes and litigation in order to safeguard the academic freedoms of the faculty and the university’s basic functions.
  4. Publication. Nothing in this policy shall limit or restrict the right of university faculty and students to publish results of their research, subject to reasonable delays to preserve patent or other intellectual property rights. Delays in publication required by the university or third parties in sponsored research agreements, as a general rule, shall not exceed 90 days from initial disclosure of the intellectual property to the Office of Technology Management or the sponsor.
  5. Income Sharing. The university shall share royalties, equity and other income derived from the licensing of patented inventions and other transfers of technology (including licensing of nonpatented technology, material transfer agreements, etc.) with the creator, unless prohibited or restricted by a third party agreement. Determination of the university’s income sharing formula for the division of all intellectual property income shall be made by the provost after consultation with university administration and a Faculty Committee on Technology Transfer.