The rights employees have to things they invent while at work is something that has been an on-going issue for some time. Within Universities it is even more complicated. News today that in Australia, the rights might lie squarely with academic researchers. Here are some words from the judgment:
“Absent express agreement to the contrary, rights in relation to inventions made by academic staff in the course of research and whether or not they are using university resources, will ordinarily belong to the academic staff,” Justice French said.
“The position is different if staff have a contractual duty to try to produce inventions. But a duty to research does not carry with it a duty to invent.”
I haven’t read the judgment but it would be interesting to know whether the research had been funded by government grant or not. While this allocation of property rights might create strong incentives for researchers to pick out their inventions and commercialise them, I worry that it may also raise the price of such commercialisation activities and not increase the flow of knowledge from universities.