Resource:How to advocate for change to the student intellectual property policy

From University Innovation Fellows
Jump to navigation Jump to search

(Watch until 1:52)


So here is the problem: You are an undergraduate or graduate student with an amazing idea that you want to secure a patent for, or turn into a start-up company. When you go to file a patent for your idea, you find out that your university is going to own more rights to that patent then you want to give up. Like many students do, you can either allow your university to own that much of your patent, or choose to push the status quo and advocate for change to your universities policies about Intellectual Property. Below you will see an example of the process students have gone through to make a difference on their campus by giving college students more rights to their intellectual property.

Understand the Intellectual Property Policy

Now, you are probably reading this because you already understand some of your universities Intellectual Property policy. Be careful because these policies are written to address lawyers, and are not easily understood because of legal jargon. You should not have to take on that entire document alone, which is why you are going to need some help. In order to create change to Intellectual Property policies, you will need to be able to articulate the subject-matter of these documents to others about why a policy of this sort is hindering you, as a student, from becoming as successful as possible.

Lawyers - It is always safe to have a lawyer review university policy in order pinpoint those agreements that may really harm your motive behind obtaining a patent for your start-up or license.

Students - You are not alone. There are other students on your campus right now who agree that changes must be made, or would back you up 100% if you explained to them the scenario - which leads us to recruiting help!

Recruit help

As previously stated, you are not alone. You need to build a team of like-minded students that will provide support, preferably two or more. These students will be the ones who will motivate you when you are doubting if all this effort is really worth it. But most importantly, you are going to need help gathering materials to make a case in advocating for change.


The purpose of gathering materials is to educate yourself for when you state your case to those who have the power to change the policy. Here are some examples of what that material research should look like:

List - you need to make a list that points out everything in the policy that you want to change. This list could be one item, or it could be more than twelve. It should state exactly what you want to be different.

Comparison - there are plenty of universities out there that have flexible or strict Intellectual Property policies. Some have worked very well for the students, and some have greatly hindered them. Do your homework by comparing your policy to major universities as well as local universities to see what you like and/or dislike about them.

Benefit - you need to be able to summarize all of your findings and explain how changes to the policy are going to benefit the student body and the university as a whole. Be ready to show examples of how other universities benefit from more flexible policies. This is going to be the most important part when convincing the decision makers of your campus to change the Intellectual Property policy.