Intellectual Property

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities define intellectual property as “any work of authorship, invention, discovery, or other original creation that may be protected by copyright, patent, trademark, or other category of law.” (Board Policy 3.26 , Part 3, Subpart I). Historically, colleges and universities have been major sources of the development of intellectual property through creative works in art, music, theater, scholarly writings, research and other innovative processes.

Minnesota State is strongly committed to protecting the intellectual property created or commissioned within the academic community. This traditional commitment to faculty and student ownership in scholarly work is recognized by the Minnesota State Board of Trustees through its adoption of specific policies governing the development and ownership of intellectual property.

On June 19, 2002, the Board of Trustees adopted Board Policy 3.26, Intellectual Property.

Policy 3.26 Intellectual Property is the result of the combined efforts of representatives of the Minnesota Interfaculty Organization, the system office, and several Minnesota State campuses. Members of the Task Force on Intellectual Property spent several months researching, developing and drafting the policy language. The Board of Trustees was also active in refining the final version of the policy, which became effective on January 1, 2003. The full text of the policy may be accessed at

Coordination Function

Colleges and universities are responsible for several functions related to the implementation of the Intellectual Property Rights policy. Implementation is the responsibility of the intellectual property coordinator.

The president or chancellor, or his/her designee, at each college and university, or system office shall appoint an employee to be the intellectual property coordinator (Board Policy 3.26, Part 5, Subpart A). The intellectual property coordinator shall:

  1. Administer the provisions of Board Policy 3.26.
  2. Disseminate the college or university's procedures implementing Board Policy 3.26, Intellectual Property, and Board Policy 3.27, Reproduction and Use of Copyrighted Materials.
  3. Respond to questions relating to the applicability of Board Policy 3.26.
  4. Provide a copy of the Intellectual Property Policy and any other forms developed to implement such policy to persons upon request (Board Policy 3.26, Part 10).
  5. Establish a record-keeping system to monitor the development and use of its intellectual property (Board Policy 3.26, Part 5, Subpart B).
  6. Ensure that Minnesota State Colleges and Universities employees utilizing intellectual property are responsible for adhering to all legal and ethical requirements in accordance with State law (Board Policy 3.26, Part 5, Subpart C).

Preservation of Intellectual Property Rights

Colleges and universities shall undertake efforts to preserve their intellectual property rights (Board Policy 3.26, Part 6).

Protection of Rights - Colleges and universities shall protect their intellectual property rights in original works in which the college or university is the sole or joint owner by:

  • Applying for patents
  • Registering copyrights
  • Registering trademarks
  • Taking all other measures that it deems necessary to preserve its rights

Payment of Costs - Colleges and universities may pay expenses associated with protection and preservation of their intellectual property rights (Board Policy 3.26, Part 6, Subpart B).

Commercialization of Intellectual Property

Colleges and universities may commercialize intellectual property in which they own or share an interest (Board Policy 3.26, Part 7).

Resources/Agreements: Colleges or universities may use their own resources or may enter into agreements with others to commercialize the work as authorized by law (Board Policy 3.26, Part 7, Subpart A).

Notice of Progress: Upon request, advise a creator who retains intellectual property rights in a work of progress in commercializing the work (Board Policy 3.26, Part 7, Subpart A).

Sharing of Proceeds: - Share with an employee who retains an intellectual property interest in a work the royalties, licenses, and other payments from commercialization of the work in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements, individual agreements, and applicable laws (Board Policy 3.26, Part 7, Subpart B).

Deduction of Expenses: Deduct from the proceeds received from commercialization of the work and reimburse to the college or university the costs and expenses listed in the policy prior to disbursing the creator's share of the proceeds (Board Policy 3.26, Part 7, Subpart B).

Intellectual Property Account: Establish a general intellectual property account for the deposit of net proceeds received from the commercialization of intellectual property and the reimbursement of expenses, or for any other purpose authorized by the policy (Board Policy 3.26, Part 7, Subpart C). Income earned from the licensing of college university trademarks and logos is not subject to this requirement for distribution of funds (Board Policy 3.26, Part 7, Subpart D).

Assignment of Intellectual Property Rights

A college or university may assign all or a portion of its intellectual property rights to the creator or to any other person as allowed by law, and may receive intellectual property rights from other persons (Board Policy 3.26, Part 8).

Condition of Assignment: As a condition of an assignment, the college or university may preserve certain rights (such as a royalty-free, irrevocable license to use and copy the work), including the right to share in any proceeds received from commercialization of the work (Board Policy 3.26, Part 8, Subpart A).

Creator Assignment: Any person may agree to assign some or all of his/her intellectual property rights to the college, university or system, and may preserve any rights available to the creator (Board Policy 3.26, Part 8, Subpart B).

Assignment in Writing: Any assignment of the intellectual property rights must be in writing (Board Policy 3.26, Part 8, Subpart C).

Policy Training

Colleges and universities, or system office shall arrange training on a periodic basis for faculty, staff and/or other persons who are covered by Policy 3.26, Part 10.

DRAFT - System Office Procedure for Resolution of Disputes

Section A. Appeal to the President. In the event that an individual who is not covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement Grievance Process, believes that he or she is the owner of an original work and entitled to intellectual property rights that the Intellectua l Property Coordinator at the college or university has determined belong to the college or university, that person may appeal to the President of the college or university or chancellor as appropriate. The intellectual property coordinator shall develop an appeal form for use in such situations. The person challenging the intellectual property coordinator's decision shall file the appeal with the president/chancellor (or their designee) within 30 days after the person receives written notification from the college or university that the coordinator has determined that the college or university is the owner of intellectual property rights in the work. Upon receipt of the appeal, the president/chancellor shall establish a committee of at least three and no more than five people to review the decision of the Coordinator and make a recommendation to the president/chancellor on ownership of intellectual property rights.

The president/chancellor may appoint any person to the committee, but the committee shall be comprised of at least one faculty member appointed by the faculty and one student member appointed by the campus student association. The president/chancellor shall appoint one member of the committee as chair. The person challenging the decision and the coordinator shall provide such information as the president/chancellor or the committee shall request and any other information the challenger or the coordinator wishes to submit. The committee shall make a recommendation to the president/chancellor within sixty (60) days after the appeal is filed. The president/chancello r shall make a final decision within thirty (30) days after receipt of the committee's recommendat ion or the information requested, but the president/chancellor may extend the time with the approval of the challenger.

Subpart B. President's Decision Final. The decision of the president /chancellor, as appropriate (or their designee) regarding intellectual property rights in an original work shall be final.

Subpart C. Affect of Decision. The president's decision does not negate the legal rights of the petitioner or respondent.

Subpart C. No Application to Certain Disputes. This provision has no application to a situation where two or more individuals disagree on ownership of an original work and the college, university or system does not maintain that it is an owner of such work.

Intellectual property is a type of personal property. As with all property, issues of ownership can arise. Misunderstandings, disputes and even litigation can occur if parties involved in the creative process do not clearly understand and delineate who owns what. For that reason, ownership issues should always be addressed up front by all concerned parties and incorporated into a written agreement. Handling these issues at the outset ensures that the expectations of faculty, staff and students and other stakeholders are properly managed along with the needs of the colleges, universities and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.

Board Policy 3.26 clarifies the ownership of intellectual property rights between faculty, students, staff and the institutions that comprise the Minnesota State System. The policy divides intellectual property rights into five categories of creative works and identifies four types of potential owners of such works.

Owner of the Creative Work Type of Creative Work
College or University Institutional Works
Faculty Scholarly Works
Staff Professional Works
Student Student Works
Individual Person Personal Works
Ownership may be modified by an agreement or other factors–and individuals may produce more than one type of creative work (scholarly, personal or encoded) dependent upon circumstance.