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Patent Policy

In view of the far-reaching research in the various divisions of the University, it is inevitable that new discoveries and inventions will be made.  The University of North Alabama recognizes that the protection and control provided under the patent laws may have to be invoked to obtain the greatest public benefit and usefulness from the products of scientific research.  It is recognized that employees of the University might need assistance in determining and evaluating patentability and in prosecuting patent applications of inventions made by them.  Many such inventions involve equities beyond those of the inventor himself or herself since the use of university facilities, the assignment of duties as a condition of employment, and the use of research funds with contractual obligations regarding patent rights give rise to complicated questions concerning rights and equities of all concerned.  Therefore, in order to appraise relative rights and equities of all parties concerned, to facilitate patent applications, licensing, equitable distribution of royalties or other financial returns, to provide a uniform procedure in patent matters, and to serve the public benefit and interest, the Board of Trustees for the University of North Alabama (herein called the University), on recommendation of the President of the University, authorizes the establishment of a Patent Committee and the adoption of the patent policy as set forth herein.

     1.  The President of the University is hereby authorized to appoint a 
          University Patent Committee composed of members 
          representative of the entire University to administer the patent 
          policy and to designate a Patent Administrator to administer the 
          policies of the committee.  This committee and the Patent 
          Administrator shall serve at the pleasure of, and their actions 
          shall be subject to the approval and right of review of, the 
          President of the University.

     2.  Subject to the approval of the President, the Patent Committee 
          shall have the power to adopt such rules and  procedures as are 
          deemed appropriate; to determine the interest of the University 
          in all reported inventions; to cause all reported  inventions to be
          investigated in order to evaluate the interest of the University in
          said invention (with due consideration given to the achievement 
          of the inventor and the financial returns to the inventor and the 
          University); to authorize the Patent Administrator to execute a 
          release when the Patent Committee decides that the University 
          has no interest in the invention or decides that the University 
          does not desire to pursue the patenting or development of the 
          patent; to authorize applications for patents on reported 
          inventions and to retain patent counsel, in association with the 
          University Attorney, for matters pertaining to patent 
          applications; and to make recommendations to the President with 
          regard to the prosecution and protection thereof and any 
          litigation that may arise therefrom.  The Patent Committee shall 
          have power also to do all things appropriate for the investigation
          of patent rights and for the exploitation of patent rights by direct
          exercise, exclusive or non-exclusive licensing, and make 
          recommendations to the President with regard to partial or total 
          assignment or sale thereof.  All questions concerning the 
          methods by which the patent shall be commercially exploited shall 
          be decided by the Patent Committee.

     3.  All faculty members and university employees, both while 
         employed by the University and thereafter, shall report to the 
         Patent Committee any invention or discovery related to the scope
         of their employment which they have conceived or developed or 
         which has been conceived or developed under their direction 
         during their university employment.

     4.  Any such invention or discovery (a) which is the result of 
         research carried on by or under the direction of any employee of 
         the University and/or having the costs thereof paid by university 
         funds or from funds under the control of or administered by the 
         University and (b) which has been developed in whole or in part 
         by the utilization of university resources or facilities belonging to 
         the University shall be assigned to the University or a university 
         designated non-profit organization established for its benefit. In 
         other situations the Patent Committee should determine if the 
         University has an interest in the invention or discovery.  Releases 
         shall be executed by the Patent Administrator when the Patent 
         Committee rules that the University has no interest in the patent 
         or does not desire to pursue the patenting of the invention.

 

    5.  The Patent Committee shall cause each invention or discovery to 
         be investigated in order to determine the interest of the 
         University and, if the Patent Committee determines that the 
         University has an interest in the invention which it desires to 
         pursue, it shall undertake to obtain a patent on the invention.  In 
         determining whether or not the University has an interest in the 
         invention, the Committee shall consider the benefits that might 
         accrue to both the University and the inventor.  The Patent 
         Administrator and the Patent Committee are responsible to act 
         within six (6) months of official notification by the 
         inventor/discoverer for the purpose of protecting the property 
         rights of the inventor and the University.  Failure to act within the 
         six (6) months time will serve as a release of the University's 
         interest in the invention.

    6.  As further consideration for the assignment rights set forth herein, 
        the University agrees to pay annually to the inventor, his heirs and 
        assigns, fifty percent (50%) of the royalties, fees, or other 
        financial returns received by the University from such invention 
        after a deduction of fifteen percent (15%) thereof for overhead 
        costs, plus a deduction for all costs of patenting and  protection 
        of patent rights (incurred by the University). Recoupment of any 
        unusual expenses paid by the University or the inventor may be 
        allowed by the Patent Committee on patents assigned to the 
        University or to a university-designated non-profit organization 
        established for its benefit.  After these specified disbursements are 
        made, all remaining financial returns from patents realized by the
        University are to be placed in the general fund of the University for 
        distribution by the Budget Committee giving primary consideration
        to the University Research Fund administered by the Vice President 
        for Academic Affairs and Provost.

   7.  The above policies shall not preclude the properly designated 
        university officials from approving and executing research 
        proposals, contracts, grants, and consulting agreements from or 
        with the United States Government or its agencies, from or with 
        corporations, or from or with individuals wherein the University's 
        patent interest and the patent interest of the researcher, with 
        his/her approval, are at variance with the above paragraphs; and 
        the terms of said contracts, grants, and agreements shall prevail. 
        Any of the above University officials may refer said proposals, 
        grants, contracts, or agreements to the Patent Committee for 
        recommendations prior to approval.  To the extent the provisions 
        of these proposals, contracts, grants, and agreements permit, the
        University shall administer such patents so as to make them 
        broadly available in the public interest. This may be accomplished
        through non-exclusive licensing on a royalty-free, or on a 
        reasonable royalty basis.  Exclusive licensing may be utilized for 
        limited periods when further development is needed or investment 
        or risk capital is not readily available, or there is no other incentive 
        for the development of the invention.

   8.  This statement of policy shall not apply to copyrights except as 
        they may pertain to inventions covered by this policy.  This policy
        shall not apply to commercial ventures, joint ventures, or 
        agreements to which the University is a party or shall become a 
        party in the future.  An example of such excluded ventures is the 
        agreement existing for the creation, operation, and management of 
        the University of North Alabama Laboratory of Applied Technology.

Approved by Board of Trustees, 03/07/1997