IP policy

IP policy

This policy is designed to provide guidance related to the management, ownership and commercialisation of intellectual property rights (IPR) developed for and within the Queen’s University Belfast. IPR may include patents, registered designs, copyright, design rights and know-how. Any creative work, including outputs from research and development carried out within the university, can lead to the creation of new intellectual property.

Ownership of Intellectual Property

As a general rule the University owns any IPR created by its employees while they are employed by the University.

Ownership of IPR is often determined by a number of factors, such as the source of funding or resources used on a project, the employment status of the inventors, and the terms of any third party agreements. The ownership position for selected categories of staff and student is as follows:

1. Queen's employed academics or researchers

in law, the University owns any IPR created in the course of the their employment

2. Queen's employed academic-related, technical and other staff

the University owns any IPR created in relation to work carried out as part of their assigned duties

3. Queen's postgraduate funded research students

the University will own any IPR created in the course of the project and the student will be asked to formally assign IPR in advance as a condition of the funding (e.g. DEL funded PhD students).

4. Queen's postgraduate self-funded research students

the student will own any IPR created in the course of their project

5. Queen's undergraduate and postgraduate taught students

the student will own any IPR created in the course of their studies

6. Collaborators and visiting academics

where the University funds the individual it will own any IPR created by them as part of their duties at Queen’s, however ownership rights may vary depending on collaborative agreements with external parties

7. Contractors and consultants

the University will own any IPR created in the course of the consultancy project and, subject to any specific agreement to the contrary, the QUB Procurement Standard Conditions of Contract policy will apply

While these categories represent a broad base of activity within the University other types of ownership may arise on a case by case basis. In all instances staff and students should contact the Research & Enterprise team who will help determine IP ownership, capture the IP appropriately and provide expert advice.


Optional assignments and variations on Intellectual Property ownership

In the case of those categories of student who would normally own the IPR that they create (as in categories 4 and 5 above), the ownership may also be modified, with their agreement. For example where the student has created the IPR as part of a team which includes University staff or where the student wishes to avail of funding or expertise from the University to help exploit the IPR, the student may be invited to assign their IPR to the University for the purpose of commercialisation. This is to avoid the legal fragmentation of the ownership. In these cases the student will then be treated on the same basis as a member of staff.

Intellectual Property in Research Projects and Collaborations

Where the University is funded to carry out research by an external body or carries out collaborative research with a company or another academic institution, specific terms related to the treatment and management of IPR arising from that project will apply. It is important that all Queen’s staff make themselves aware of the specific terms related to any individual project they may work on.

Management of Intellectual Property

Research and Enterprise should be advised of any new invention or discovery, via the Invention Disclosure Form, as soon as it is created and before information is given to any third party. Disclosure to others may not only limit the opportunity to protect the intellectual property but could result in the inventors and the University being excluded from subsequent exploitation opportunities. Discussions with third party partners should generally only take place after the exchange of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Inventors should discuss the invention with the Research and Enterprise team prior to submission of any paper for publication. Research and Enterprise will advise on the next steps regarding exploitation and commercialisation and, if the University decides to proceed, will make all the necessary arrangements. The University will typically meet the legal costs of applying for intellectual property protection.

The University will endeavour to exploit the IPR for a commercial gain and will work with the inventors and other bodies to try and achieve this. Research and Enterprise has an established process for commercialisation and will involve the inventors as the exploitation plan progresses.

Revenue Distribution

Where IPR is successfully exploited, the University shall distribute any income received by it, less any costs incurred in seeking IP protection and exploitation. The net income received shall be distributed as follows:

  • 50% to the inventor(s);
  • 25% to the Faculty; and
  • 25% to the University.


For further queries regarding the IP Policy or related to specific cases please contact Dermot Tierney on 028 90 971348 or email ipmanagement@qub.ac.uk.

April 2016