I have an idea that I'm working on while on campus. If I launch a company, will the University own part of it?

That’s a great question and it comes down to whether or not you are launching a company based upon intellectual property that the University owns.

According to the University’s General Rules, the University owns all intellectual property developed by any University employee or by anyone, including students, using any University facilities, equipment or funds.  There are exceptions to these rules for students participating in courses and for those participating in campus programs (see examples below).

What does this mean for students?

Intellectual property created by a student in the course of typical classwork is likely owned by the student as long as the student is only using University resources that are usually and customarily provided. Examples of resources customarily provided to students are office space, dorm rooms, library facilities, and ordinary access to computers and networks.

However, when a student creates intellectual property using University facilities, equipment or funds, then standard University ownership rules apply. For example, when a graduate student conducts research in a faculty lab, then it is likely that the University owns any resulting intellectual property.

Please note that participating in campus programs that promote entrepreneurism, such as Illinois I-Corps, EnterpriseWorks’ I-Start, AWARE, the Cozad New Venture Challenge, or Social Fuse, does not in itself confer ownership of intellectual property to the University. Those programs are offered without obligation.

The Office of Technology Management can work with you to determine ownership. And if you want to launch a company to commercialize an innovation that is based on University intellectual property, the Office of Technology Management can help you work through the process.

It’s customary for start-ups using University intellectual property to provide the University with a small portion of equity in recognition of the University infrastructure and resources that were used in development of the technology.

Key Takeaways

  1. The University provides many free entrepreneurial programs to assist faculty, staff & students in their commercialization efforts.
  2. Participating in those programs does not confer ownership of intellectual property to the University.
  3. If a company is launched based upon University-owned intellectual property, the Office of Technology Management will help you work through the process.

The Office of Technology Management

The Board of Trustees: Governance
General Rules (Article III discusses intellectual property)