Intellectual Property policies for CWRU Undergraduate Students

Click here for a Letter to Undergraduates

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What requirements does CWRU place on a student’s use of think[box] facilities in terms of invention?  Do I have to disclose my invention to anyone?  Does the University claim ownership?
In general, CWRU places no ownership rights on intellectual property invented and/or developed by undergraduates using the think[box] capabilities.  You do not need to seek permission to invent, nor do you need to disclose inventions to the University.
The exception to your sole ownership is if you are using think[box] facilities to further develop technology already owned or invented by the university, its employees, or one of its partners.  Such a situation can occur, for example,  if you use think[box] facilities to improve or modify an invention already developed by a university faculty or staff member; or if you are employed to work on a project sponsored by CWRU or by an outside company or organization. An example of this would be an internship sponsored by a company or a government institute. In the first case, the intellectual property rights may already be defined by an existing agreement which could preclude your ownership or inventive freedom. In the second case, since your salary is being paid by the company or organization, intellectual property rights remain with the company.
2. What should I do if I desire to use an existing invention or sponsor’s resource, or if I am uncertain if the intellectual property rights are already spoken for? 
In such a case, please contact Professor Malcolm Cooke at think[box], or Joe Jankowski of the CWRU Technology Transfer Office. Collectively, they will work with you and any other needed CWRU personnel to determine the status of the IP and help you decide an approach based on such a situation.
3. Can you provide an example of a situation where my IP freedom may be encumbered by faculty IP rights?
Sure – a hypothetical example: During a physiology class, a CWRU professor describes to the class her research activity related to esophageal stents. She notes that she’s created a new material that could be used as a part of a method for prosthetic placement of areas of the esophagus resected during surgery. You ask for more details and, following a private discussion with the professor, have an idea for a new shape of the prosthetic material. You desire to use the think[box] facilities to develop such a prosthetic device. 
In such a case, the professor may (a) have already created intellectual property related to the concept that you intend to develop or (b) may be working on the project through sponsorship by a for-profit medical company. If either were true, then depending on the specifics, you might be prohibited (i.e., perhaps the commercial sponsor already has rights to the background IP). Drs. Cooke and Jankowski could help you assess such a situation.