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Institutes should share patent rights with students for on campus inventions: AICTE


New Delhi: Who deserves the credit for on campus inventions? Both the researcher as well as the institution, according to AICTE which has made it mandatory for academic bodies to share patent rights with a researcher, if the facilities of the institution are used while developing a product or a technology.

Framed for the first time by the Union HRD ministry's technical education regulator, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the National Innovation and Start Up policy for Students and Faculty of Higher Education Institutions" (HEIs) is aimed at bringing uniformity across the academic bodies.

The policy, announced recently, will also facilitate the ministry in bringing uniformity across HEIs in terms of intellectual property ownership management, technology licensing and institutional startup policy.

Earlier, in absence of an official policy, different norms were followed for inventions done on campuses.

While in few cases, the institution would get the credit, in others students will use resources of their institutions but will not share the patent credit.

Seen as an inventor-friendly policy, it also entitles students/researchers/ faculty members to sole ownership of patent rights if the product is developed without using any of institution's facilities and funds and work has been conducted outside work hours.

In case of a dispute, a five-member panel will take a final call on the patent ownership.

"When institute's facilities or funds are used substantially or when product or technology is developed as a part of a curriculum or an academic activity, IPR is to be jointly owned by inventor and the institute. They could together license the product or IPR to any commercial organisation, with inventors having the primary say," the policy said.

"However, an institute may not be allowed to hold any equity as per the current statute, so SPV may be requested to hold equity on their behalf," it added. A special purpose vehicle, also called a special purpose entity (SPE), is a subsidiary created by a parent company to isolate financial risk.

"If one or more of the inventors wish to incubate a company and license the product to this company, the royalties would be no more than 4 per cent of sale price, preferably 1 to 2 per cent, unless it is pure software product, the policy said.

"If it is shares in the company, shares will again be 1 pc to 4 pc. For a pure software product licensing, there may be a revenue sharing to be mutually decided between the institute and the incubated company," it added.

On the other hand, if product is developed by innovators not using any institute facilities, outside office hours (for staff and faculty) or not as a part of curriculum, then product IPR will be entirely owned by inventors in proportion to the contributions made by them.

"In this case, inventors can decide to license the technology to third parties or use the technology the way they deem fit. If there is a dispute in ownership, a minimum five membered committee consisting of two faculty members, two of the institute's alumni or industry experts and one legal advisor with experience in IPR, will examine the issue," it said.

According to the policy, the institution's IPR cell or incubation centre will only be a coordinator and facilitator for providing services to faculty, staff and students and will have no say on how the invention is carried out, how it is patented or how it is to be licensed.

Students and researchers have welcomed the move saying it is good to have a uniform policy for institutions across the country.

"IIT Delhi has a similar policy where credit is normally shared jointly for on campus inventions. However, an official policy is a welcome move to bring uniformity and be fair to the student as well as the institution especially at a time when the start-up culture is booming," said Pooja Singh, from IIT Delhi's Incubator Cell.










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