Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Intellectual Property Rights of Graduate Research Students Policy

Category Research
Type Policy
Approved by Council, 8 July 2003
Date Policy Took Effect 1 August 2003
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible Officer Senior Research Analyst, Research and Enterprise
Review Date 31 January 2012


It is the University Council's desire to encourage and reward innovative research work within the University which leads to the creation of intellectual property (IP).

The purpose of this Policy is to encourage such research within the graduate research student community (ie thesis Masters' and PhD students) by:

  1. acknowledging the partnership between student and University in the creation of IP during, and directly related to, the course of the student's studies;
  2. protecting the respective interests, including legal rights, of both parties; and
  3. providing a mechanism for the appropriate sharing, in a mutually beneficial manner, of the financial benefits obtained from the commercial exploitation of the resultant IP.

Graduate research students may choose whether they wish to protect the IP arising from their research. For this reason, it is not the intent of this Policy to require students to protect and share in the financial benefits of IP when they do not wish to do so. The essential objective of this Policy therefore is to protect the interests of students and the University when the student wishes to commercially exploit the IP.

Organisational Scope

This Policy applies to all graduate research students and those University or external staff involved in their supervision.

While this Policy is intended primarily for graduate research students, other students may elect to protect the IP arising from their research in terms of the provisions of this Policy.


 IP – Intellectual Property

IPA – Intellectual Property Agreement

For the purpose of this policy:

“Intellectual property” includes:

(a) inventions patented or patentable under the Patents Act 1953;

(b) designs registered or registrable under the Designs Act 1953;

(c) plant varieties registered or registrable under the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987;

(d) trade marks registered or registrable under the Trade Marks Act 1953 and trade marks or names protected at common law or under the Fair Trading Act 1986;

(e) layout designs for integrated circuits protected under the Layout Designs Act 1994;

(f) copyright protected under the Copyright Act 1994 in original literary works, dramatic works, musical works, artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, cable programmes and typographical arrangements of published editions.

"Student" means a graduate research student (ie a thesis Master's or PhD student).

Policy Content

1. Intent

The University acknowledges that the issues in regard to the IP of graduate research students created during, and directly related to, the course of their supervised research studies are different to those of staff who create IP during the course of their employment at the University. For this reason, it is essential for the student and the University, in partnership, to develop an appropriate intellectual property Agreement (IPA), including University and student ownership of the IP, that is tailored to the particular circumstances of the IP that the student has created or anticipates creating.

The intent of this Policy is not for the University to automatically assume that it owns all the IP created by its graduate research students. The University's view is that, as such IP is produced with the assistance of the University through its staff and other resources, the University has a part-ownership of the IP. If it wishes to exercise a claim on ownership of the IP, the University will enter into an agreement with the respective student, in accordance with this Policy, to share the financial benefits that may arise. Should the University waive ownership, the student is free to make his or her own arrangements regarding the IP.

Students who are also staff and whose staff roles do not include a research component will be considered as students and this Policy will apply provided that the IP which has been created has arisen as part of their graduate research studies. The Staff Intellectual Property Rights Policy will apply to those students who are also members of the academic staff and whose staff roles include a bona fide research component.

When using the IP created by a graduate research student, the supervisor concerned has an obligation to declare both the supervisor's and the student's respective roles in creating the IP. A supervisor may not commercially exploit the IP created with a student without the express written agreement of both the student and the University.

2. Copyright

The University does not claim copyright in work or material produced by students during, and directly related to, their course of studies and agrees that copyright in such work or material is owned by the students who produce it.

3. Procedures

The following procedures are required to facilitate the creation and protection of commercially valuable IP:

(a) Graduate research students will be required to sign an IP declaration when enrolling as thesis only students. This declaration will be included together with the other declarations in the Thesis Only Enrolment Form. The declaration will read as follows, under the heading Intellectual Property Rights: “I undertake to abide by the University's Policy for Intellectual Property Rights of Graduate Research Students.”

(b) Any IP or idea and specific know-how with potential commercial applicability already in existence at the commencement of the student's studies should be appropriately identified and registered in a Statement of Prior Intellectual Property through the Director, Research & Enterprise at the time of commencement of studies. The purpose of this Statement is to accurately identify, and hence appropriately protect, the student's contribution in the creation of any subsequent IP and to minimise the possibility of any conflicts of interest arising.

(c) When research activity generates results that are novel and have potential commercial applicability, students should immediately advise the Director, Research & Enterprise, through his or her Head of Department. The Director, Research & Enterprise will make an assessment of commercial applicability, and, where appropriate, will initiate formal procedures to develop a mutually agreeable IPA, including the respective student and University ownership proportions of the IP and the term of the IPA, to protect the IP. Any costs involved will be paid by the University in the first instance but will be recovered subsequently pursuant to section 4 below. Should no remuneration eventuate, the University will bear these costs.

(d) In order to safeguard any IP created within the University, it is important that students are cautious in publishing the results of research activity with potential commercial applicability. It would be in the best interests of the student and the University to not publish until the Director, Research & Enterprise has made a final assessment on commercial applicability and protection of the IP. This decision shall be made expeditiously, so that publication of the student's work is not unreasonably delayed.

(e) Students are advised to maintain full records of all documentation related to the creation of IP and to keep the University informed of their contact details.

4. Distribution of income from intellectual property

Any royalties or other remuneration received by the University as a consequence of licensing, selling, or otherwise dealing with IP which the University claims part-ownership of pursuant to this Policy, shall be distributed in a manner consistent with: this Policy; the IPA entered into with the student (section 3(c)); and any Statement of Prior Intellectual Property, if applicable (section 3(b)).

As a general principle, the following distribution model will be used in determining the respective shares of the parties:

(a) Firstly, the University and the student shall recover the following expenses incurred in the protection and/or commercialisation of the IP:

(i) all direct expenses
(ii) time-based fees (the hourly rate for these fees shall be no greater than the hourly rate charged in the service level agreement then current between the Director, Research & Enterprise and University Departments)

(b) Secondly, the balance of the royalties or other remuneration shall then be divided between the student and the University based upon the percentage contribution of the student in creating the IP.

This percentage contribution will be determined through a process of consultation between the student and the University, including the student's supervisor/s, with a view to reaching an agreement. It is the University's intent that the percentage contribution should represent an accurate, mutually agreeable, fair and reasonable figure. If required, an appropriate third party, agreeable to by the student and the University, may be requested to independently assess the relative value of contributions by the student and the University and to make a final and binding decision.

(c) The University's share of the royalties and other remuneration will be divided in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Staff Policy for Intellectual Property Rights.

5. Cessation of study

When a student who is entitled to payments pursuant to section 4(b) leaves the University upon completion of their studies, or dies while studying at the University, the payments will continue either to the student in the case of the former or to his or her estate in the case of the latter.

6. Redress

(a) Any complaints related to the application of this Policy, including the apportionment of income from the IP, should be made in writing to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise).

(b) Complaints will be addressed in accordance with the relevant redress provisions in the respective IPA.

7. External Research Contracts

(a) The University may enter into contracts to provide research resources to external clients, including those in the commercial sector. Ownership of IP generated by such research, and distribution of income from that IP will be governed by the terms of the contracts, and sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 above will not apply.

(b) Students engaged in such contract research must:

(i) ;be fully informed in writing of the IP provisions that have been arranged;
(ii) give their consent in writing to these arrangements prior to beginning their research; and
(iii) comply with all contract terms and conditions, including any confidentiality requirements and publication constraints.

(c) The University's “Externally Sponsored Graduate Research Procedures” should be consulted when study based on externally funded research is contemplated.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

  • Copyright Act 1994
  • Designs Act 1953
  • Fair Trading Act 1986
  • Layout Designs Act 1994
  • Patents Act 1953
  • Plant Variety Rights Act 1987
  • Trade Marks Act 1953