University research students: who owns the IP?

The English Court has ruled on the ownership of inventions made by a PhD student at a UK university. Under the UK Patents Act 1977, employee’s inventions generally belong to their employers. Is a PhD student an employee or a consumer? If a consumer, is a term in an agreement to assign IP “unfair”, therefore potentially not binding on the student?

In Oxford University Innovation Ltd v Oxford Nanoimaging Ltd [2022] EWHC 3200 (Pat) (23 December 2022), the Court held that a PhD student is a consumer but the terms of the student’s contract were not unfair.

What’s the issue?

There is debate about who owns and who benefits from intellectual property (IP) rights arising from the research activity of academics and students. This debate has increased in importance as institutions have increased their focus on commercialisation of research work.

The court was asked to decide whether a PhD student was a consumer and therefore entitled to protection under consumer…

Full article available on PatentHub

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