Intellectual property law provides tools that can enhance an institution’s ability to capitalise on the value of its expertise and help it exploit innovative opportunities.
There is increasing awareness of the potential commercial and social value in the work of further and higher education institutions and their staff. Education establishments are more than ever expected be involved in the exploitation of their intellectual property creations with outside bodies. Getting licences and agreements right from the outset is crucial to success and effectiveness as well as maximising the return on investment.
In addition as producers and users of intellectual property, compliance with the law and instilling respect for the rights of others continues to present challenges for institutions with large numbers of learners engaging with new technologies.
As well as commercial deals, some institutions make available intellectual property assets that are available free of charge to businesses and individuals who think they can exploit the technology and are interested in working with the institution. See for example the University of Glasgow's Easy Access IP which offers innovation and patents to those who can make best use of the research.
Institutions are involved in knowledge creation, development and exchange and are working to ensure that new ideas, technologies and innovations flow from their institution into the market place. A successful outcome when commercialising research may be the licensing of intellectual property to a new or existing business.
The reality is that many institutions will have processes in place that manage innovation all the way from disclosure through to a commercial reality, along with staff that provide assistance and support, from finding relevant funding through to the identification and engagement of potential licensees and collaborative partners.
Apart from those that specialise in this area it is valuable for institutions to instil in staff and students a broad understanding of the laws of intellectual property so that awareness is raised and the opportunities to capture innovation at the earliest stage are maximised. By ensuring that its learners and staff understand the regulatory environment that governs this work an institution will be better able to maximise the benefits of research and innovation.
It is generally the case that where a college is using educational licenses for learning resources and software it is a breach of the licence to use them for commercial purposes.