Policies & Resources
View our policies, and learn more about intellectual property, technology transfer and entrepreneurship at the University of Denver.
Intellectual Property Policy
The University's Intellectual Property Policy governs Intellectual Property (IP) made or created by University faculty, students, staff and others participating in University research programs, including visiting researchers.
University of Denver Policy Manual - Intellectual Property
- Facilitate and celebrate innovation within the University community
- Enhance the University's reputation and visibility
- Contribute to the public good through economic development
Questions regarding the Policy may be directed to our Office.
Conflict of Interest Policy
The University of Denver expects the highest standards of conduct and honesty from all of its University Representatives. University Representatives must fulfill their institutional responsibilities with care and loyalty and must avoid involvement in activities that conflict with, or appear to conflict with, those responsibilities.
Copyright Ownership of Teaching Materials
The University of Denver Intellectual Property Policy affirms the principle under U.S. copyright law that copyright in a work created by a person acting within the scope of his or her employment belongs to the employer rather than the originating author. However, as is customary within the academic traditions of the University of Denver and peer institutions, copyright ownership rights in a scholarly work belong to the author(s) of the work (See IP Policy § II.A).
The purpose of this statement is to clarify that under the University Intellectual Property Policy, copyright ownership in instructional content and materials originally authored by individual instructors that are shared in the course of their teaching shall also belong to the author(s), with certain, stated exceptions (See IP Policy § II.C-E). The University, with limited exceptions, will NOT treat such instructional content as "work-for-hire."
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Ownership of Instructional Materials
Which instructional materials are exempted from the "work-for-hire" doctrine and considered owned by the faculty-author?
- Course syllabi
- Lecture notes
- PowerPoint or other digital presentations
- Class assignments, exams, and supplemental materials
- Certain digitally produced materials (also see Q2)
Which instructional materials are NOT exempted from the "work-for-hire" doctrine?
- Materials developed in the course of or pursuant to a sponsored research agreement shall be owned as specified in such agreement
- Materials created with substantial "University assistance"
- Substantial use of voice(s) or image(s) of University Employees, Staff Members or property.
- Substantial creative or developmental contribution by Employees, Staff Members, or Students engaged in the course of their regular employment or academic program (other than Creator(s)).(Contributions by others may be owned by those individuals or by the university, depending on the circumstances)
- Substantial use of University software designers, programmers or other information technology staff or University computing or telecommunications facilities (use of Canvas is not a "substantial use").
- Examples: Digital productions, reproductions, or other recordings of courses that are made at the University's expense and with the use of University videographers or editor
- Materials from courses for which the faculty member was specially contracted and compensated by the University beyond his/her regular salaried appointment
- Examples: Faculty members contracted by the University specifically as course developers
If I record my Zoom class sessions to allow students to watch them after the live session, do I own the copyright in those recordings?
You retain full copyright ownership of instructional content and materials originally created by you that are captured in these recordings. Copyright in content and materials from students and other individuals that are captured in the recordings are owned by the contributors respectively.
If I use Zoom to create videos of my lectures for my students to watch asynchronously, do I own those videos?
You retain full copyright ownership in these videos.
Can the University share the digital materials I created, such as zoom recordings or a course site in canvas, without my permission?
The University will seek your express permission before sharing instructional content and materials created by you with others.
Can I sell or license the zoom video I create to a third party?
This could potentially present issues of conflict of commitment or conflict of interest (Conflict of Interest Policy). There may also be potential liability related to student privacy and third-party copyright or trademark infringement.
If there is any possibility of selling or licensing the zoom video, please contact the Office of Provost or Office of General Counsel to resolve any conflict of interest issues.
Can I grant free access to the content I create for my course to other educators or non-profit organizations?
Content that you originally created which is stored on your computer may be shared at your discretion provided that doing so does not present issues of conflict of commitment or conflict of interest (Conflict of Interest Policy). There may be potential liability related to student privacy and third-party copyright infringement with sharing the video. You would need to consider these issues and request approval from the appropriate third parties before sharing.
If you have any questions related to the conflict of interest, please contact the Office of General Counsel or Office of Provost.
Intellectual Policy Resources
Types of Intellectual Property
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). To obtain patent protection, an invention must be described in a patent application and is subject to examination before a patent examiner. This process may take 14-24 months. A patent is protected for a term of 20 years, then the invention enters the public domain.
In the University context, patent protection predominately applies to technical works. Recently patented inventions have emanated from the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science and the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Inventors work with our Office to disclose their invention and begin the protection process.
Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of original works including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. Unlike other forms of IP rights, a work does not need to be registered to obtain legal protection - rights begin at the moment of creation when fixed in a tangible form of expression. Work must be registered to enforce rights against an infringing party in litigation . Registration protects the copyright for the author's life plus an additional 70 years or in the work for hire context, 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation.
The University of Denver protects software and creative works with copyright registration.
A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. Federal trademark protection involves registration with the USPTO. The mark must be described in a trademark application and is subject to examination before a trademark examiner. Trademarks exist as long as the mark is used lawfully and the owner renews the mark.
A trade secret generally includes any confidential business information that provides a corporation with a competitive advantage. This includes manufacturing or industrial secrets and commercial secrets. Trade secret protection continues as long as the information remains secret.
What is Fair Use?
The Fair Use Doctrine allows for the non-infringing use of copyrighted work in certain limited situations, including educational purposes. Fair Use is evaluated on a case-by-case basis depending on the facts.
Why do we have Fair Use?
Fair Use allows copyrighted works to be used without permission in furtherance of educational or scholarly purposes. The copyright system in general seeks to incentivize the distribution of ideas to a wide audience. Fair Use also protects the owner of the copyrighted work by placing use limitations. For example, photocopying an entire textbook and distributing the copies to students is unlikely to be fair use.
Determining Fair Use
Fair Use is governed by Section 107 of the Copyright Act. There are four factors that are balanced against each other to determine whether the use of a copyrighted work is fair.
Four-factor Test for Fair Use:
- Purpose and character of use;
- Nature of the copyrighted work;
- Amount and substantiality of the portion used; and
- Effect of use on the potential market of the copyrighted work.
- Using material under copyright protection ALWAYS requires a Fair Use analysis.
- Including an attribution to the copyright owner does not automatically make the use fair.
- Do not assume use automatically falls with the Fair Use exception because it is educational use.
- There are no bright-line rules dictating an allowable percentage or length of the portion to be used.
- Be reasonable: If your material was being used by a third party, what would you feel is fair?
Data is transferred, shared, and created during research. Data is subject to ethical, contractual, and intellectual property considerations. Data ownership, access, and protection are highly valuable considerations during the University's research process.
Raw data is information that has not yet been processed or manipulated. This can be a set of numbers, readings, or other metrics collected from a source. University researchers often obtain raw data from an outside source.
Researchers use raw data as inputs into their experiments to generate variable-based outcomes. Research data is recorded factual material that is an output of an experiment. Research data includes test responses, database contents, models, and software algorithms. Data is often stored digitally.
Raw data and research data are subject to sharing policies. There are limits on how and when data can be shared—and there are commonly contract provisions related to confidentiality. Federally funded researchers must abide by the funding entity's data sharing policies. For example, the National Institute of Health requires NIH grant recipients to make final research data available via articles in scientific publications or researcher-accessible digital archives.
Additionally, when working with human subjects, privacy is paramount. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's (HIPAA) Privacy Rule requires all individually identifiable health information be removed prior to the transfer of human subject data to protect the subjects' identities.
In addition to federal data regulations, the European Union enacted the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 for international data. GDPR applies to organizations outside the EU when they offer goods and services to or monitor the behavior of EU data subjects.
Artificial intelligence raises considerable opportunities to analyze and process data in exciting ways. These new applications also bring challenges to data use and governance. Machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence, must use data in compliance with data rules and regulations. Using artificial intelligence in inventions also raises intellectual property considerations regarding the protection of these technological methods.
Our Office is committed to assisting inventors through the Intellectual Property protection process and answering questions related to data use.
- Helpful Links
Tech Transfer Resources
The Bayh-Dole Act is the governing regulation for Intellectual Property arising from federally-funded research. More on Bayh-Dole is provided in AUTM's guide. AUTM is the nonprofit leader in efforts to educate, promote and inspire technology transfer professionals.
The Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer works with University inventors and outside members of industry to guide licensing agreements.
Proof of Concept Grant
The Proof of Concept (POC) Grant is an Advanced Industries Accelerator Program administered by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). The program supports the commercialization of technologies at research institutions, including the University of Denver, along the stages of the commercialization pathway.
This grant uses funding to identify and pull technologies from research institutions where they were discovered and connect them to the private sector where they can be developed into products for commercialization.
The advanced Colorado industries that are supported include aerospace, advanced manufacturing, bioscience, electronics, energy, infrastructure engineering and technology and information.
More information on the POC Grant Program can be found here.