Intellectual Property

The Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences recognizes, respects and will adhere to the right of industry sponsors to protect their intellectual property (IP) and sensitive trade secrets.

In cases where sponsored projects involve improvements to existing products and processes developed by the sponsor, the sponsor rightly retains the right to its background IP throughout the course of the senior design project.

Undergraduate students typically own the intellectual property that they create at the University of Rochester. If a sponsor requires ownership rights of intellectual property developed by students in a Senior Design project, they can request that students complete a non-disclosure agreement/intellectual property (NDA/IP) agreement. Students are not obligated to participate in projects that require the assignment of the student’s intellectual property to a sponsor. Occasionally, new products and processes are invented in the course of a sponsored senior design project. In such cases, if a patent is filed and a student meets the legal definition to be an inventor, then it is appropriate for the sponsor to include the student(s) as a named inventor on the patent.

Sponsors should not expect that University faculty will have significant creative involvement in a Senior Design project. Organizations that wish to work with faculty directly can sponsor a research project or other arrangements with the University.

In the case of a project that benefits from a University of Rochester faculty member’s existing IP, such as a unique algorithm developed by the faculty member and applied to the sponsored senior design project, that IP continues to reside with the faculty member and the University and may not be claimed by the sponsoring company

Sponsors must agree not to hold students, the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, or the University of Rochester responsible for the final success of the project or any product liability.

Student teams will be permitted to discuss and display their project in public forums unless there is an explicit agreement with the sponsor not to do so. If requested, sponsors will have an opportunity to review, comment, and edit company specific materials before public display on design day at the end of the semester.

If students need access to sensitive or proprietary information to complete the project, sponsors can request that the student group completes a non-disclosure agreement/intellectual property (NDA/IP) agreement. If faculty members also need access to sensitive or proprietary information to adequately advise students, sponsors can set up an NDA with the University through the University of Rochester technology transfer office, URVentures.

Though the intent of the senior design program is that all innovations come from the students, in some cases faculty may also make patentable contributions. Though the University owns intellectual property created by its employees (including faculty), our practice for inventions arising from senior design projects is not to file for intellectual property protection.

Contact Curtis Broadbent from URVentures at (585) 273-3250 or with any questions regarding intellectual property.