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Intellectual Property

Please note. This content is from the 2018 Research Student Handbook and should only be used as a guide. Please refer to the 2019 Research Student Handbook PDF for current information.

Intellectual property (IP) is, broadly speaking, intangible property that is the creation of your intellect – it is the productive new ideas you create.

It can be an invention, literary and artistic works, trade mark, design, brand, or the application of your idea. Some rights must be registered in order to ensure maximum protection (such as patents) while others exist at law immediately upon creation (copyright).

A definition of IP that you might find in a University of Adelaide agreement is as follows:

Intellectual Property means patents, inventions, plant breeder’s rights, registered or unregistered trademarks and service marks, registered designs, copyrights, database rights, design rights, confidential information (essentially the right to require information to be kept confidential), know-how, applications for any of the above, and any similar right recognised from time to time in any jurisdiction, together with all rights of action in relation to the infringement of any of the above.

Student IP Deed Poll

The University's Intellectual Property Policy ("IP Policy") provides that you own the IP you create in the course of your studies, except when you elect to participate in a project that:

  1. builds upon pre-existing University IP (Special Case A); or
  2. is being carried out for, or in conjunction with, an external third party (e.g. a cooperative Research Centre, a company, etc.), whether under a separate formal agreement or not (Special Case B).

The University is able to determine whether Special Case A and/or B applies through the information provided in your Core Component of the Structured Program (CCSP). In cases where A and/or B apply, the University is entitled to, and asserts ownership of, the IP created by you by requiring you to sign a standard form Student IP Deed Poll.

A Deed Poll is simply a legal deed made and executed by one party, and by signing an IP Deed Poll you confirm your agreement to assign and transfer to the University your entire legal interest in and to any IP you develop.  The assignment of your IP rights in these circumstances is necessary to:

  • protect interests relating to existing University IP (Special Case A), which is managed by Adelaide Enterprise;
  • ensure the University can meet its contractual and other obligations to third parties (Special Case B), which is managed by Research Legal Services.

It is important to note that if you do not agree to assign such IP to the University as outlined above, you will be unable to work on a Special Case A project or a Special Case B project and you will therefore need to choose another project that does not build on pre-existing University IP nor involve an external third party.

If advised to do so by Adelaide Enterprise or Research Legal Services, the Adelaide Graduate Centre will send relevant students the standard form IP Deed Poll which must be signed as evidence of compliance by the University of its obligations under the third-party agreement (including ownership of the IP by the University). Certain third-party partners such as CSIRO/SAHMRI/SA Pathology/MedVet/CRCs have their own student agreements which may contain other provisions relating to IP, but depending on the circumstances, a Student IP Deed Poll may also still be required.

Automatic IP embargo

Unless otherwise approved by Research Legal Services, if you are working on a Special Case A and/ or Special Case B project and you sign an IP Deed Poll, an automatic two year IP embargo will be placed on your thesis from the date of original submission. At the end of the two year period, the embargo will expire and be automatically lifted; meaning that access to your thesis will no longer be restricted. You will receive appropriate notification at that time. In the meantime, you can also apply at any time to have the embargo waived (during candidature) or removed (after submission) if it is not necessary, or is no longer necessary (further details may be found on the Intellectual Property Forms page).

Under exceptional circumstances, authorisation to extend the period of the embargo may be provided by the University. All applications to extend the period of the embargo will be considered by the Dean of Graduate Studies on a case-by-case basis and must be received by the Adelaide Graduate Centre at least two months before the embargo is due to expire. If an application for extension is not lodged two months before the embargo expiry date, the embargo will be lifted and the thesis placed in the public domain, unless other arrangements have been made.

It is important to remember that an IP embargo only begins to run from the date of original submission for examination.  It does not in any way restrict publication during candidature, which of course the University encourages.

IP matters are complex and may take time to resolve. To ensure that unnecessary delays are avoided, you are encouraged to discuss IP with your supervisor(s)/postgraduate coordinator at an early stage of candidature and, if necessary, to obtain independent legal advice.

Further information regarding IP, including the University's policy and the relevant forms is available on the Intellectual Property Forms page which also includes a set of useful Frequently Asked Questions.


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