Intellectual Property Rights and Responsibilities of Bates College Faculty and Staff

Faculty or staff members applying for a grant or engaged in grant-funded activity must familiarize themselves with their rights and responsibilities as enumerated in the College’s Intellectual Property policy.

Bates College Intellectual Property Policy

Bates College (hereinafter “Bates” or “the College”) holds teaching and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge among its primary purposes. Bates believes that respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital for academic discourse and enterprise. Thus, where possible, Bates should make results from scholarly pursuits available to industry and the public on a reasonable and effective basis. 

Bates has an interest in protecting such intellectual properties (hereinafter “IP”) to:

  1. Serve the public good by promoting the disclosure, dissemination, and utilization of inventions that arise in the course of Bates research through established channels of commerce;
  2. Provide incentives to members of the Bates community who create such inventions; and
  3. Support further research and development by securing a share in the proceeds of such inventions for Bates.

The Bates Intellectual Property Policy (hereinafter “Policy”) has been established to provide equitable responsibilities and rewards among inventors and creators (hereinafter, “inventors” and “creators” may be used interchangeably), their academic units, Bates, and any external organizations that have sponsored and financed research activities at th College. Under this Policy, IP can be managed to further Bates’s mission, enhance the value of such properties, and maximize benefits to Bates, inventors, and authors. These policies and procedures apply to the reporting of inventions by investigators, prosecution of patent rights by Bates, development of commercial applications, distribution of financial benefit and expense within the Bates, and distribution of a share of net income from inventions to the inventor(s).

Scholarly work created by faculty or students is IP and is typically owned by the creator(s). Scholarly work is defined broadly to include pedagogical, literary, scientific and other creative work developed by faculty members and/or students (or staff members acting outside the scope of their employment). 

This includes:

  1. work related to scholarship, such as books, journal articles, inventions, advances, discoveries, software, creative works, artistic works in any medium (including, but not limited to, musical composition, choreography, visual art, scriptwriting), videos and photographs, and 
  1. work related to teaching, such as textbooks, lecture notes and other course notes (whether in summary or verbatim form, whether privately held by the faculty member or distributed to the class, whether paper or electronic), problem sets, syllabi, training materials, and websites for classes. 

While the majority of scholarly work generated by faculty and/or students is IP that is owned exclusively by the creator(s), Bates reserves the right to collaborate with the creator(s) on decisions to pursue patents and other protections of the IP.

Covered Individuals

All Bates employees are covered by this policy. Also covered are non-employees (including students, visitors, volunteers, fellows, and scholars) who are aided by significant use of Bates resources.


Inventions are, under federal patent law (U.S.C. Title 35), novel and useful ideas relating to processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. An invention can be made solely or jointly with others as co-inventors. To be recognized legally, a co-inventor must have conceived of an essential element of an invention or contributed substantially to the general concept.

Copyrightable works are, under federal copyright law (U.S.C. Title 17, as amended by the 1976 Copyright Act), original works of authorship that have been fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. 

These works include:

  • Literary works, such as books, journal articles, poems, manuals, memoranda, tests, instructional material, databases, bibliographies;
  • Computer software, which in addition to being copyrightable, may also be patentable;
  • Musical works including any accompanying words;
  • Dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, including photographs, diagrams, sketches, and integrated circuit masks;
  • Motion pictures and other audio works such as videotapes; and sound recordings.

A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods.

Discoveries are defined for the purpose of this policy as new products or processes that are not patentable inventions or copyrightable works but that may contain or be based on proprietary information. Examples include tangible research properties such as biological materials (including cell lines), chemical substances, prototype devices and equipment, and research data. Discoveries may sometimes be protected as trade secrets.

To make an invention or discovery means to first conceive it or reduce it to practice.

A royalty is a payment made to an owner of IP for the privilege of practicing a right under a patent, copyright, or discovery. The term ‘royalty’ does not apply to funds awarded to Bates under sponsored agreements or philanthropic gifts made to the College.

An employee’s scope of employment is determined by the employee’s job description (or a functionally equivalent document). It typically does not include the general obligation of faculty to produce scholarly/aesthetic works and course materials.

Significant use of Bates resources is defined as the use of Bates facilities, staff, or funds beyond those normally available to members of the Bates community. Significant use of Bates resources involves the material use of funds or facilities of the College. When an inventor is uncertain about the application of this policy to an invention, they are encouraged to disclose it promptly to the College so that application of this policy might be agreed upon in advance of any attempts to commercialize it. 

Some examples are:

  • The provision of faculty start-up funds, enhanced sabbatical leaves, and research space.
  • Extended use of time and energy by the developer(s) in the creation or promotion of the intellectual property enabled by a reduction in the levels of teaching, scholarship, or citizenship activities, so that anticipated performance in these areas is at a level significantly less than normal;
  • Use of products or services obtained by a substantial expenditure of Bates funds in support of the intellectual property’s creation;
  • Direct assignment or commission from Bates to undertake a creative project as a part of the developer’s regular appointment;
  • Substantial use of funding from gifts to the College to support the creation of the intellectual property involved;
  • Production of the intellectual property under specific terms of a sponsored research grant or contract.
  • Use of assigned office space, normal clerical support, and routine use of library resources, desktop computers, and office supplies are not significant use of College resources.

A work for hire, according to the 1976 Copyright Act, is:

  • A work prepared by an employee within the scope of their employment [see above definition]; or
  • A work specially ordered or commissioned for use if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

Discoveries and Inventions

  1. All rights to and interests in discoveries or inventions, including patents thereon, which result from research or investigation conducted in any experiment station, bureau, laboratory, or research facility of Bates or involve significant use of Bates facilities or resources, shall be the sole property of Bates. All rights and interests in software, although it is copyrightable, shall be the property of Bates when it is required for an invention or is part of an invention. Covered individuals who make or participate in making such discoveries or inventions while fulfilling their Bates responsibilities or using Bates resources shall promptly disclose their discovery or invention to the sponsored programs office via the disclosure form. The use of this form has the effect of initiating the review process for patentability and commercialization potential.
  2. Rights to inventions arising during government or other externally sponsored research are controlled by the terms of the agreement between the Bates and the sponsor and/or applicable federal regulations.
  3. Inventors shall be entitled to share in any royalty income received by Bates for their discoveries or inventions in accordance with the royalty distribution schedule (attached). Bates shall maintain distributions of an inventor’s respective share of such royalties after the inventor terminates their Bates employment.
  4. Covered individuals agree to assist and cooperate with Bates in obtaining and enforcing patents, including, without limitation, executing and delivering all assignments, documents, and instruments reasonably requested by Bates in conjunction with obtaining and enforcing patents within the United States or any foreign jurisdiction.
  5. Bates has no obligation to pursue or maintain patent protection for disclosed inventions. If the sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, recommends that Bates not pursue a patent application, maintain a patent, or otherwise market that invention, then Bates may assign ownership to the inventor(s) while retaining a royalty-free license to use the invention for non-commercial purposes. Bates shall duly consider a covered individual’s request for assignment of an invention in which that individual has had input when Bates chooses not to pursue a patent application, maintain a patent for that invention, or otherwise, market that invention.

Copyrightable Works

  1. Covered individuals retain ownership of their own copyrightable works unless the work is a work-for-hire or is subject to a separate written agreement that requires assignment to Bates or to a third party. In the case of assignment to Bates, the author will retain the right to use the material for personal, non-commercial purposes. It is emphasized that the legal copyright owner is the author of the work—the person(s) who gives tangible expression to the idea regardless of who might have been the original creator of that idea. (For example, if a student writes a paper based on a professor’s idea, and the professor is not a co-author of the work, the student is, by law, the sole copyright owner.)
  2. Covered individuals shall cooperate with and sign all documents reasonably requested by Bates to enable it to secure, register, and enforce in the U.S. and any foreign countries, copyrights in all works owned by or assigned to Bates. Bates shall cooperate with and sign all documents reasonably requested by a covered individual to enable him or her to secure, register and enforce in the U.S. and any foreign countries copyrights in all works owned by or assigned to that individual.
  3. Traditional faculty products of scholarly activity that have customarily been considered to be the restricted property of the author will be owned by the author regardless of the medium in which the work is embodied. Such traditional products include, but are not limited to, journal articles, textbooks, monographs, works of art, including paintings and sculptures, and musical compositions. Bates does not claim any ownership rights to such works.

    Bates also does not claim ownership of traditional academic works produced by professional employees who, though not appointed as faculty, play a role in supporting the university’s academic mission. In addition, the author of such traditional works is responsible for compliance with applicable copyright laws. If such works embody a patentable invention, the inventor will disclose and assign ownership of the invention to Bates in accordance with the above policy on “Discoveries and Inventions.”
  4. Royalties earned from the commercialization of traditional faculty products will accrue entirely to the author(s) as personal income unless copyright was previously assigned to Bates or significant Bates resources were used in the production of the work. For traditional faculty products requiring significant use of Bates resources, author(s) will repay Bates for identifiable resources from any personal income earned. Before making significant use of Bates resources in the creation of such works, covered individuals shall consult with their Chair or supervisor, who shall have the opportunity to consult with the sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, before approval.
  5. Bates faculty may request the sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, to assist them in registering their copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright owners may assign their copyrights to Bates, which may, at its option, endeavor to commercialize the copyrighted work. Any royalties generated would be shared in accordance with the royalty distribution schedule attached to this policy.6.    As a condition of enrollment, a student grants royalty-free permission to Bates to reproduce and publicly distribute, on a noncommercial basis, copies of student project reports, theses, or dissertations, including any computer software developed as part of the student project, thesis or dissertation. In certain situations, the sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, in consultation with the thesis director or faculty advisor, may conclude that joint ownership by Bates and the student is appropriate for computer software developed as part of a student project, thesis, or dissertation. In such rare cases, the sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, shall prepare an agreement between Bates and the student as soon as practicable during the process of carrying out the research project but prior to the final submission of the student project report, thesis, or dissertation. Notwithstanding the preceding, if the student creates copyrightable material that is either subject to requirements of a sponsored agreement or is research data, such material will be owned by Bates or the supervising faculty member pursuant to any such sponsored agreement and this policy.


  1. Any trademarks created by a covered individual at the request of Bates shall be owned by Bates.
  2. Trademarks created by a covered individual in association with an invention, discovery, or copyrighted material shall be owned by the same party that owns the invention, discovery, or copyrighted material.


  1. Inventors are responsible for promptly disclosing their inventions to the sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, when required by this policy. The sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, may call upon inventors for advice and cooperation to assist Bates in patenting and/or marketing the invention.
  2. Copyright holders are responsible for assigning copyright ownership to Bates when required by this policy. Copyright assignments should be processed through the sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives.
  3. Custodians of Bates-owned discoveries and proprietary information owned by third parties are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent unauthorized use or inadvertent public disclosure of such discoveries and information. These steps may require those with access to the discovery or information to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
  4. The sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, with the advice of the office of general counsel, the inventor or author, and outside organizations as appropriate, is responsible for:
    • administering, in a confidential and expeditious manner, all intellectual property disclosed to him or her;
    • conducting patent searches, marketability assessments, and license negotiations;
    • licensing, marketing, and distributing (either directly, through members of the Bates community, or through outside organizations) intellectual property in which Bates has rights;
    • providing information on intellectual property issues to Bates’s community;
    • interpreting requirements of sponsored agreements regarding intellectual property;
    • providing assistance in registering the copyright to any works in which Bates has rights and, upon request, in registering the copyright to faculty-owned work;
    • arranging the distribution of royalty income earned by Bates under license agreements or other arrangements in accordance with the attached royalty distribution schedule;
    • making recommendations to the office of the general counsel concerning patent applications and maintenance of patents;
    • defraying the costs (either directly or through licensees) of patent applications, maintenance fees, registration fees, and other costs incurred in administering intellectual property;
    • preparing or assisting in preparing reports on intellectual property matters, including royalty income, for members of Bates’s community, external sponsors, and other requesting organizations;
    • determining the rights of the Bates in any invention, discovery, or copyrightable work covered by this policy. Inventors and authors may appeal this determination to the Dean of Faculty.
  5. The Office of General Counsel is responsible for providing advice to the sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, and for liaison with Bates’ patent attorneys.
  6. The sponsored programs office, acting in the capacity of technology transfer representatives, is responsible for ensuring that professional consulting agreements awarded by Bates contain appropriate provisions for the protection of Bates’ intellectual property rights.

Royalty Distribution

  1. Covered individuals who are makers of inventions and discoveries, or authors of copyrighted works will share in royalties received by Bates.  Net royalties are defined as gross royalty income less actual expenses incurred by Bates in the administration of the intellectual property, including but not restricted to legal fees, patent maintenance fees, and marketing expenses. Covered individuals shall receive 50% of net royalties regardless of whether the covered individual remains employed by or affiliated with the College. Where there is more than one covered individual, royalties shall be divided equally unless the participants have unanimously agreed otherwise in writing.
  2. Payments shall be subject to all laws and third-party agreements. Distributions of the covered individual’s share will be made at least annually in the year in which net royalties are distributed. Compliance with all tax laws and any liability under such laws shall be the sole responsibility of persons receiving payments.  In the event of the death of a payee, such payments shall continue to their estates to the extent permitted under state law.

Determination Process

When a report is required by the creator(s), and no agreement with the creator(s) is reached, the Dean of the Faculty, in consultation with the creator, shall make a determination about the college’s pursuit of intellectual property protection. This determination should be made in a timely manner. In all cases, the Dean will be guided by the principles set forth in this Policy and the creator(s) will be given an opportunity to explain the situation or proposal and recommend terms for ownership, responsibilities, use rights, risks and financial arrangements.

The Dean’s determination shall be made in writing, signed by the Dean, which will be delivered promptly to the creator(s). The determination, bearing the date on which it was delivered to the creator(s), shall be filed with and maintained by the Bates Treasurer’s Office. The determination shall become final and shall be binding on the creator(s) and the College unless, within thirty (30) days of the date on which the Dean has delivered the determination to the creator(s), the creator(s) file a notice of appeal with the Dean of Faculty. 

On receipt of a notice of appeal, an ad hoc committee of Bates students, faculty or staff members shall be formed by the College Treasurer’s Office. It shall consist of one individual selected by the Dean of the Faculty, one individual selected by the creator(s), and one individual agreed to by the creator(s) and the Dean. In the event that the creator(s) and the Dean cannot agree, the third member will be appointed by the College Treasurer. The committee will make a written recommendation to the President after reviewing the Dean of Faculty’s determination. The President’s determination will be filed with the College Treasurer, and a copy will be delivered to the creator(s). This determination of the President will be final and will be binding upon the college and the creator(s). Each of the parties will execute a written agreement allocating respective right, title, and interest in and to the IP consistent with the President’s determination after receiving a copy of the President’s determination

In the event that the President or the Dean of the Faculty is a creator or co-creator of IP as to which no agreement has been reached, and which requires a determination under this Section, the determination shall instead be made by the Chair of the Board of Trustees. The Chair’s determination, when ratified by majority vote of the Board of Trustees, shall be final and shall be binding upon the creator(s) and the College.

IP Disclosure Form

Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

Materials Transfer Agreements (MTAs) or Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) which you may be asked to sign by collaborators may conflict either with the terms of the Bates College IP policy referenced or with the terms and conditions of one or more sponsored research agreements (grants) with which you are involved. Therefore, any such MTA or NDA should be sent to SPaRC ( for a preliminary review and must be countersigned by the Dean of the Faculty.