Intellectual Property


Intellectual property policies provide licensing services and revenue to inventors, including graduate students. Cornell Policy 1.5 provides details about inventions and related property rights, and Policy 4.15 provides details about copyright.

As an institution of higher education, Cornell’s primary obligation in conducting research is the pursuit of knowledge for the benefit and use of society. Ownership of an invention depends on certain conditions.

As a student, you may own the invention or copyright:

  • When a work of authorship protectable under copyright law results from your normal course of classwork, even when using some university space, equipment, and other non-specialized resources routinely available to all students, and even with general guidance from Cornell educators but without specific intellectual contributions from a Cornell appointee, ownership belongs to you.
  • When you develop an invention during normal classwork, with routine use of university resources, ownership belongs to you.
  • When you develop an invention or create a copyrightable work on your own time, unrelated to your university responsibilities, and with no more than routine use of university resources available to all students, ownership belongs to you.

Cornell owns the invention and acknowledges the contributions of the inventor(s) and the university with 1/3 of net licensing revenue going to the inventor(s), 1/3 divided 60% to the inventor’s research budget and academic unit and 40% to the university for general research support, and 1/3 to the university to support the Center for Technology Licensing to cover services provided to inventors:

  • When your invention is created while holding a university appointment and while fulfilling your appointment responsibilities, or with use of university resources (which includes sponsored funds) beyond those that are made available to all students.

In Depth

Ownership of inventions and copyrights depends on the extent that university resources are used, an individual’s appointment status or assigned duties, and sponsor contractual obligations.

Cornell policies 1.5 (Inventions and Related Property Rights) and 4.15 (Copyright) explain the details of intellectual property (IP) and copyright ownership, the rights that Cornell conveys to its inventors to share in net licensing revenue, and the services and resources that Cornell provides to market patentable inventions.

Cornell’s Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) works with inventors and provides expertise and resources for commercialization strategy, patent filing, marketing, license negotiation, licensee monitoring, and other legal actions necessary to move an invention or other intellectual property forward to successful commercialization, services that an inventor would otherwise have to pay for to obtain themselves. 

If Cornell has not pursued patent protection or commercialization of a Cornell invention within one year, the inventor may request that all university rights be assigned to them. As long as no sponsored project restrictions prevent it, and all other co-inventors consent to the request, the intellectual property rights to this invention may be reassigned by the university to the inventor(s). 



Cornell University Center for Technology and Licensing