Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) is the result of an individual's intellectual endeavours, most commonly in the forms of literary or artistic works, inventions, trade/commercial secrets or industrial designs.  

IP is capable of being protected (eg by copyright, patents, registered design) so that the owner retains exclusive rights to exploit the IP and generate income. Please read the information below regarding your IP during your research degree candidature.

For more information on Intellectual Property in Australia, please check IP Australia.

Student IP

The Intellectual Property: Ownership and Management Policy applies to staff and student IP. This policy sets out the manner in which the ownership of IP will be determined and includes specific arrangements for IP created by research students.

The University makes no claim to the IP created by a student unless the IP was created as part of the student’s involvement in a Sponsored Project.

Sponsored Project means a project involving a student where:

  1. The Project is funded by an external organisation and/or the Project is subject to a commercial agreement with an external organisation; or
  2. The Project uses pre-existing University IP, i.e. IP developed within the University or for the University before the Project commenced or independently of the Project.

The University requires research degree students to assign their IP to the University where they are engaged in a Sponsored Project.

In general, the University claims no ownership of copyright in a student's coursework, such as assignments and student theses. Where coursework relates to a Sponsored Project, the University is entitled to an exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, fee-free, worldwide licence to use the results of and copyright in such coursework for the University's purposes, including commercialisation and the filing of patent applications. 

Where a student’s coursework or thesis contains or describes IP (including copyright in any project data) that has been legally assigned by the Student to the University, that IP (including copyright in any project data) remains University property, notwithstanding that the student owns the remaining copyright in such coursework or thesis.

Statement of Agreement and IP

The Statement of Agreement will trigger initial discussions about IP between you and your supervisors. If these discussions reveal that your intended research involves a Sponsored Project, the Student Project Participation Agreement must be completed and signed. By signing you are agreeing:

  • that all intellectual property produced in the course of the project will be owned by the University
  • to keep all confidential information received or produced by the student confidential unless authorised otherwise
  • to report any intellectual property that may be considered capable of commercialisation to your supervisor immediately (who is then responsible to report the intellectual property to UniSA Ventures Pty Ltd, UniSA's commercialisation company.

Nothing in this agreement hinders your right to have your thesis examined (provided that appropriate arrangements are made when confidential information is used).

In return, the University agrees to allow you to participate in the research project and to share any returns from the commercialisation of intellectual property with you in accordance with University policy.

Confidential information

While undertaking your research, you may become privy to confidential information:

  • of the University
  • provided by an external organisation (eg if the project is undertaken in collaboration with an industry partner).

The Student Project Participation Agreement contains clauses requiring you to maintain confidentiality of such information. Otherwise, the University or the external organisation may require you to enter into a separate confidentiality agreement.

Regardless of whether a written agreement is entered into, you may still be bound by obligations of confidentiality if you obtain information which you are aware is confidential and may not be disclosed.

You may also develop confidential information during the course of your research. Where confidential information is developed as part of a project specifically run by the University or involving an external organisation, you should not reveal such information without first consulting your supervisor. Revealing such information may jeopardise chances of obtaining a patent or may be in breach of confidentiality obligations towards the University or external organisation.

Your thesis and publications

If your thesis contains confidential information, you will still be entitled to submit your thesis for examination. However, the University may require that public access to the thesis be restricted for a period of time (generally up to 2 years).

If you wish to submit a publication which contains confidential information of the University or an external organisation, such a publication will be subject to the University or organisation's approval.