Brussels, 13 August 2002
The decision by the UK's Cambridge university to place restrictions on its researchers' intellectual property rights may set a precedent which affects the researchers' work and the university's ability to attract top researchers.
The university produced a report this summer which aimed to standardise its approach to the intellectual property rights of work and ideas carried out at the university in an attempt, it said, to protect researchers and students from venture capitalists looking to benefit from them.
As from 1 January 2003, the university will be asserting ownership of all intellectual property generated by its employees in the normal course of their duties. Researchers will be required to relinquish all intellectual property rights to the university and collaborate with the university on any profits from inventions.
The changes could mean that there could be more difficulty in maintaining the university's noted record for producing spin offs, especially in the hi tech sector. But the report produced by the university denies this.
'This rationalisation may be superficially attractive, but it is unprovable and a policy based on assertion and belief is hard to justify,' it said. It claimed that the new measures would relieve researchers of the burden of having to exploit new inventions without a proper support system in place and ensure that the benefits of any new inventions are not lost to society.