Intellectual Property Policy and Agreement FAQs
Read the June 3, 2019 memo from Vice President and Associate Provost for Research, Gloria Waters.
Intellectual Property Policy
Boston University’s Intellectual Property Policy, effective July 1, 2017, provides guidance for the management of intellectual property (IP) at BU, allowing members of the research community to make informed decisions about IP and technology transfer. Read the policy
Intellectual Property Agreement
In compliance with federal regulations, BU requires all faculty and all staff to read, understand, and agree to the terms of BU’s IP Policy. It also requires that any students involved in a BU research project do the same.
This new IP Agreement replaces previous patent policy forms, covers all forms of intellectual property, and applies to both the Charles River Campus and the BU Medical Campus. Note that has Boston Medical Center has a separate intellectual property policy. BU and BMC have an agreement that coordinates between these policies.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHO NEEDS TO SIGN
Who needs to sign the agreement?
This is a University-wide policy that applies to all faculty and most staff (only excluding non-exempt and non-compensated employees). It also applies to students involved in University research, including PhD candidates and students doing funded research.
Do I really need to sign this? My job doesn't involve research!
Yes. Everyone who received the notice from Gloria Waters and PolicyTech, including all faculty and exempt staff, need to sign the agreement, regardless of your current job responsibilities.
Are students included in the required population that has to sign the IP Agreement?
Students who are involved in University research (including PhD candidates and students doing funded research) are included in the population that must sign the IP Agreement through PolicyTech, the software program being used to obtain sign-off of the IP Agreement electronically. Students in other programs and activities may need to sign the IP Agreement also– but they are not included in the electronic PolicyTech system. Students in these programs and activities should inquire with their local programs for information on the process for signing the IP Agreement. Student employees can look for specific information on the Student Employment Office webpage
Why do I have to complete the IP Agreement?
Most importantly, we are interested in creating an open community where all members are working under the same set of rules in relation to intellectual property to encourage a free exchange of ideas. Furthermore, federal regulations require that any research funded by the federal government have a formal patent policy in place. Also, many research contracts with industry have similar requirements.
I've signed BU's IP Agreement in the past. Do I need to sign it again?
Yes. BU revised its IP Policy in 2017, and now we need all faculty and staff to sign the agreement again. If you received the email from Gloria Waters on June 3 and a follow-up email from PolicyTech on June 4, it means we don’t have your signature on file and we need you sign the revised agreement.
I've signed an IP policy for another institution with which I'm affiliated. Do I need to sign the agreement?
Yes, if you participate in Boston University research as described in BU’s Intellectual Property Policy. There is no harm in signing the BU IP Policy, and it will only operate to your advantage under those circumstances when BU’s policy does apply. The policy states: “Intellectual property created by faculty or staff, or by students working on University research or other University projects, is owned by the University if it is created either: (a) within the scope of University employment, including work under University grants and contracts with third parties; or (b) with significant use of Boston University Resources.”
I’m faculty emeritus. Do I need to sign the agreement?
Yes, if you continue to participate in University research as described in BU’s Intellectual Property Policy. There is no harm in signing the BU IP Policy, and it will only operate to your advantage under those circumstances when the policy does apply. The policy states: “Intellectual property created by faculty or staff, or by students working on University research or other University projects, is owned by the University if it is created either: (a) within the scope of University employment, including work under University grants and contracts with third parties; or (b) with significant use of Boston University Resources.”
COMPLETING THE AGREEMENT
How do I sign?
You will need to sign the policy through PolicyTech, a software program being used to obtain sign-off of the IP Agreement electronically. You can access PolicyTech through the web address http://bostonuniversity.policytech.com/
, where you will be prompted to sign in with their Kerberos username and password. Once signed in, you will see that you have been assigned the task of signing off on the IP agreement. Download step-by-step instructions: PDF
| Accessible for screen readers
I'm located at BMC. Why am I having issues logging in?
First, look at what browser you’re using. If it’s Internet Explorer, you’re much more likely to have issues logging in. Try Google Chrome instead. If that doesn’t help, you may need to connect to the BU VPN in order to log into PolicyTech from your BMC computer. To connect to the BU VPN, call the BMC IT Helpdesk and tell them you need to access this URL: vpn.bu.edu/2fa
and they will talk you through downloading the link. BMC IT can be reached at 617-414-4500. Downloading the BU VPN is a one-time process, so if you have already downloaded the BU VPN in the past, you simply need to connect to the BU VPN – and then you will be able to connect to PolicyTech using the direct link http://bostonuniversity.policytech.com/
. If you’d prefer, it’s also possible to log into PolicyTech from a personal computer (not a BMC laptop) at home without going through the BU VPN. We appreciate your time and attention to this important matter.
Is the policy available as a PDF?
Yes, there is a PDF version of the Policy available on the University Council website
. Its primary home is on the Office of the Provost’s website
. The Policy is also available in PDF format in the PolicyTech system once you log in to complete the task of agreeing to the Intellectual Property Agreement terms, although there is no way to save it from the PolicyTech system.
What is the recommended browser?
Google Chrome is the recommended browser. If you are having trouble accessing PolicyTech through Internet Explorer, please try Google Chrome.
Why am I getting an error when I try to view the policy in PolicyTech?
If your browser settings are set up to automatically download PDFs in Chrome, you may need to adjust those settings to view the policy in the PolicyTech platform. Try the following:
1. On your computer, open Chrome.
2. At the top right, click more More and then Settings.
Instead of the word “More” the user reported that At the top right of Chrome, there are three vertical dots, which you click to access the dropdown menu that contains “Settings” as a choice.
3. At the bottom, click Advanced.
4. Under “Privacy and security,’ click Site settings.
5. Near the bottom, click PDF documents.
6. Turn off Download PDF files instead of automatically opening in Chrome.
POLICYTECH & DATA SECURITY
What is PolicyTech?
PolicyTech is an online platform BU selected for our IP agreement process. PolicyTech is owned by NAVEX Global. Navex is a vendor BU has a longstanding relationship with, as they provide our anonymous hotline tool, EthicsPoint.
Is my data secure?
Access to PolicyTech is controlled through BU’s Shibboleth, which provides secure, multi-organizational access to third-party resources across the University, PolicyTech just being one. PolicyTech does not store any confidential data — just the names and email addresses used for distribution. Learn more
about BU’s Shibboleth.
What if I don’t want to use PolicyTech to sign? Can I sign another way?
Unfortunately, no. Since the goal in using PolicyTech is to bring all agreements together in the same system, we cannot allow any exceptions to the process outlined above. If you have any technical trouble, please refer to our step-by-step instructions: PDF
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My office used to have new faculty/staff sign the IP Policy in paper form. Is that still necessary?
As soon as a new employee starts at BU, they will be prompted to sign the IP agreement in the PolicyTech system. Signed forms in paper copy are no longer needed, so long as people fulfill this obligation in the PolicyTech system. Instead of having people sign paper forms, you will want to confirm that new staff has received an email from PolicyTech and have agreed to the terms in the system. You can also ask to be added to the central Sharepoint site where these forms are collected to see who is in compliance. Please contact Compliance Services at firstname.lastname@example.org to get access. You can also send copies of your paper forms collected to date to Compliance Services so they can be added to this central site.
What intellectual property does BU own?
The University intellectual property policy states: “Intellectual property created by faculty or staff, or by students working on University research or other University projects, is owned by the University if it is created either: (a) within the scope of University employment, including work under University grants and contracts with third parties; or (b) with significant use of Boston University Resources.”
What intellectual property doesn't BU own?
Section IV.A.2 states that if the IP is created outside the scope of University employment and without any significant use of University resources, the creating individual owns the intellectual property.
What if I create intellectual property outside of the scope of my responsibilities at BU?
Again, Section IV.A.2 of the IP policy states that if intellectual property is created outside the scope of University employment and without any significant use of University resources, the individual will own the intellectual property.
What about non-patentable intellectual property, like books, articles, and lectures?
The University recognizes and affirms the tradition in higher education that academic works such as books and articles, lectures, visual materials, and other teaching materials are owned by the faculty member authoring them rather than the employing educational institution, even if they otherwise come within the scope of Section 4.A.1 in the policy. Faculty ownership of such academic works may, however, be affected by the terms of agreements with third-party sponsors, or by agreements between faculty and the University with respect to special projects such as the creation of online courses or other digital education offerings. Use of such academic works is otherwise subject to the University’s Conflict of Commitment Policy
and Policy on Faculty Involvement in University Digital Courses
Submit a Question
I have more questions about intellectual property at Boston University. Where can I get answers?
Learn more about intellectual property and bringing your ideas to market on the Research Support site
. You can also reach out to Technology Development at email@example.com