Dr. Hill and students

Wofford College Intellectual Property Policy

This policy was developed with the assistance of Ford & Harrison, LLP and approved by the Wofford College Board of Trustees in 2008. Since the adoption of the policy, the title “Dean of the College” is no longer in use. The chief academic officer is now referred to by the title of “Provost.”

I. Introduction

Wofford College (the "College") and its faculty members, administrators, staff, and students are united in the goals of creating and disseminating knowledge. The College recognizes that questions as to rights, ownership, and commercialization of works embodying such knowledge, or intellectual property, will arise from time to time. The purpose of this intellectual property policy (this "Policy") is to establish means for determining the ownership of works of original authorship and inventorship created by members of the College community and for resolving disputes that may arise from time to time among authors or inventors or between authors or inventors and the College.

A. Who Is Covered by This Policy?

This Policy applies to all College employees, including full-time and part-time faculty, administrative officers, and staff, to all students, and to anyone else using College resources under the supervision of College personnel, including volunteers, interns and students enrolled at other colleges (each a "Covered Individual"). This Policy also applies to adjunct faculty in the absence of any countervailing agreements to which they are subject. Compliance with this Policy is a condition of employment for all employees. Finally, the terms of this Policy are embodied in the contracts that govern work done for the College by consultants and other independent contractors.

B. What Is Covered by This Policy?

This Policy is applicable to all intellectual property created by Covered Individuals whether acting alone or with collaborators in groups, including groups comprising one or more Covered Individuals and one or more participants who are not members of the College community. Intellectual property created by faculty members during their employment by the College but derived from works created prior to such employment are covered by this Policy, subject to preexisting written agreements, if any, between creators and sponsors. Because some Covered Individuals may be collaborating with others who are not Covered Individuals, it is important that such collaborators be apprised of and assent in writing to this Policy prior to beginning work on any project that might result in intellectual property to which this Policy applies.

II. Copyright

A. What Is Copyrightable Subject Matter?

To be protectible by copyright, a work must be original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which it can be perceived directly or with the aid of a device. In copyright parlance, originality does not mean novelty. It merely means that the work originates with its author. Facts and statistics, standing alone or compiled in databases, are not original in this sense. Because a work must be fixed in a tangible medium, a lecture is not protectible by copyright, although the written text prepared in anticipation of delivery and a recording of the lecture are protectible. Protectible works must also embody some degree of creativity.

B. Copyright Ownership: Works Created by Faculty and Other Employees

Employers, including colleges, own copyrights in "works made for hire," that is, works created by employees within the scope of their employment. The law regards the College itself as the author of such works. Nevertheless, with certain exceptions (enumerated below) the College waives any claim of copyright ownership in curricular materials created by faculty pursuant to their obligation to teach courses and in scholarly or other professional works prepared by faculty for publication. Books, textbooks, journal articles and PowerPoint presentations prepared for professional meetings are examples of such scholarly or professional works. As consideration for waiving its claim of copyright, the College claims a nonexclusive, nontransferable, perpetual right to make use of such works for noncommercial, academic purposes.

As noted above, certain exceptions exist with respect to the waiver of a claim of copyright by the College. These include situations in which:

  • Such works are funded by externally sponsored programs under an agreement that allocates such ownership to the College (in such event the author will execute a written assignment of copyright to the College prior to the release of sponsor's funds);
  • A Covered Individual is directed by the College to develop a work and the College and the Covered Individual agree that the work will be deemed a work made for hire (in such event the author and the College will execute a written agreement to that effect, or, in the alternative, the Covered Individual will assign his or her copyright in the work to the College);
  • Such works are to be developed with substantial use of College resources, e.g., funds, facilities, lab equipment, personnel support in excess of those resources widely available to others in the same class of employment (in such event the author will execute a written assignment of copyright to the College prior to permission for the author to make such extraordinary use of College resources is granted).

The College has the right, but not the obligation, to register its copyrights.

C. Copyright Ownership: Works Created by Students

The work-made-for-hire rules are applicable to works created by students employed by the College. In addition, the College claims copyrights in works created by students alone or with others under each of the exceptional circumstances enumerated in the preceding section.

D. Allegations of Copyright Infringement against Third Parties

If a Covered Individual becomes aware of a third-party's infringement of a work covered by this Policy, that individual will inform the Dean of the College promptly in writing of such infringement. The College will have the right, but not the obligation, to prosecute at its own expense all actions (including, without limitation, claims of infringement and declaratory judgment actions) to enforce or defend its rights, if any, in such work. In the event the College undertakes the enforcement and/or defense of its intellectual property rights by litigation, any recovery will be the exclusive property of the College.

III. Computer Software and Inventions

From time to time the College enters into agreements with business and community organizations (collectively, "Sponsors") pursuant to which students create or revise computer programs for the benefit of such Sponsors. Original authorship in the field of computer software is eligible for copyright protection. Inventions in the field of computer software may be eligible for patent protection.

Generally, when entering into agreements with such Sponsors, the College assigns its rights, if any, in the resulting computer software to the applicable Sponsor. In exchange the College requests a perpetual, nonexclusive, nontransferable license to use the software for noncommercial educational or administrative purposes. In order to complete the chain of title in any software rights, the College will, as a condition of participation in a Sponsor-funded project, require every Covered Individual, including students, and every project participant who is not otherwise a member of the College community to assign his or her intellectual property rights in the software to the College. The execution of such a written assignment is required before a Sponsor's funds are released or permission to make substantial use of College resources is granted.

In the event that a sponsorship agreement does not entail an assignment of rights to the Sponsor, the copyright and any patent rights in computer software resulting from a Sponsor­funded project will be the property of the author/inventor, but the College will receive a perpetual, nonexclusive, nontransferable license to use the software for noncommercial educational or administrative purposes.

Absent an assignment of rights by inventor(s), the College does not derive any ownership in inventions created in whole or in part by Covered Individuals. Consistent with the provisions of this Policy respecting Sponsor-funded projects and the College's limited license to use inventions created by employees, ownership of inventions, whether patentable or not, will be decided on a case-by-case basis according to U.S. law. In order to preserve the right to patent any such inventions, the College encourages all to whom this Policy applies to disclose such inventions to the Dean of the College prior to disclosure outside the College community. Students are encouraged to disclose inventions to their faculty advisors.

IV. Revenues

In the event that the College realizes revenues from the sale or license of any copyrightable work or any invention, the College will distribute a portion of net income (that is, gross revenues minus administrative, licensing, legal and other commercially reasonable expenses) to the author(s) and/or inventor(s) involved. Because many variables enter into the computation of such payments, distribution of income to Covered Individuals and others will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Vice President for Business.

V. Miscellaneous

The President of the College has the authority to administer and enforce this Policy.

A. Resolution of Disputes

If a dispute arises between a Covered Individual and the College or between two or more Covered Individuals, such dispute will be referred to the Vice President for Business.

B. Amendments to This Policy

As with all of its policies, the College reserves the right to amend this Policy from time to time.

C. Questions about This Policy

Questions about this policy should be directed to the Dean of the College.