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OSP | Compliance | Intellectual Property

The Intellectual Property Committee administers the copyright and patent policies of the university pursuant to the policies and guidelines found in the PI handbook.


In regard to copyrights, the university believes that the publishable work of its faculty, staff, and student body should be available to all interested scholars. The university also believes that the author should be given full credit for any work, and should be entitled to retain proprietary rights to the product of the individual's own initiative and independent labors. Occasionally, however, faculty and staff produce materials as a result of specific university assignments. In such cases, the university reserves the right to determine whether or not the material will be copyrighted, and in whose name, and what rights, if any, the author will retain to the materials. Normally, when materials published under the university's copyright are distributed or sold for educational or scientific purposes only, the author receives no payments. If the materials are marketed commercially, however, the author often receives royalty payments based upon an agreed rate.

Any arrangement relating to copyright matters involving a sponsored project must be referred to OSP. Some sponsors have established regulations governing the copyright and/or publication of the results of investigations they finance. Limitations imposed by government agencies seek to keep research findings within the common domain. Occasionally, restrictions are designed to prevent the release of information that might prove contrary to the national interest or detrimental to the interest of the sponsor. Before entering a sponsored project, an understanding among the principal investigator, the university, and the sponsor should be reached regarding the rights to any copyrightable materials produced by the project.

Traditionally, the right of first publication is the property of the author, unless the terms of the grant or contract specify ­otherwise. Copyrights secured for the university or any of its units are placed in the name of the university, and become university property. The OSP Contract Administrator will provide interested persons with information concerning the procedures to be followed in applying for a copyright.


In regard to patents, the university policy is that discoveries or inventions resulting from a sponsored project that are judged by the principal investigator to be patentable must be brought to the attention of the university Intellectual Property Committee. This committee determines whether and to what extent the university has a property interest in the discovery or invention. To safeguard the interests of the university, the public, and potential inventors, the Provost has established a patent policy applicable to all university project personnel which can be found in Chapter II of the Principal Investigator's Handbook, available on the right of this page.

For information on the university's Intellectual Property matters, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at 202-885-3440, or