This article resulted from senior administration's guidance to revise the institutional intellectual property policy because of an influx of disclosures that took time and money to process. Moreover, the policy drafted in the mid-1970's did not address the difference between traditional and non-traditional works and did not make the process clear for disclosing and developing intellectual properties. Nor did the old policy address the need to try to license technology expeditiously. A new policy was indicated that involved faculty members and staff who were experts in how intellectual property related to distance education. This new initiative required that the policy not only address inventions but copyright matters as well. This article discusses how these matters were handled as well as how administration and faculty members developed a new policy, disseminated it for review by the campus community, and ultimately saw it approved by the institution's Board of Regents. It concludes with a further revision of the policy resulting from the implementation of a research foundation to handle intellectual property, technology transfer, and commercialization of products. As policy and procedures were developed, an eye was kept on faculty concerns at a predominately undergraduate institution, the kinds of properties that might be developed, given the teaching and applied research nature of the faculty, and the overarching need to maintain academic freedom and products for the public good. For reference the Western Kentucky University Intellectual Property URL is http://www.wku.edu/Dept/Support/SponsPrg/grants/ip_main.htm. At this site the new policy and attachments 1-4 can be reviewed.
Research for Policy Development
In the late 1990's, Western Kentucky University (WKU) found that the patents policy in the Faculty Handbook was outdated. Senior administration emphasis on the integration of teaching and research had evolved new intellectual properties. The existing policy was found to be deficient because it did not comprehend a disclosure process, technology transfer and commercialization, copyrights, or Intellectual Property (IP) Committee membership that represented campus constituencies now interested in IP. The old policy was approved in the mid-1970's before the electronic age, and the IP Committee had not met regularly. Meanwhile, faculty creations needed attention, and me President turned to the Office of Sponsored Programs for leadership in the fall of 1998. To develop the new policy, the Provost reconstituted the Intellectual Property Committee (IPC) with strong faculty representation from the academic colleges, the dean of Graduate Studies and Research, an assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, a representative of fiscal affairs, a patents attorney, and the director of the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), who chaired the committee. The Provost's charge was to develop a new policy mat combined policies and procedures for both patents and copyrights.
This process took about two years and was approved by the Council of Academic Deans, the Faculty Senate, the President's Administrative Council, and the Board of Regents.
The Committee reviewed a number of documents, including state statutes and university intellectual property policies. Of much help were the policies at the University of Texas-Austin, Brigham Young University, the University of Washington, and the University of Louisville. They helped define the differences between traditional works that would not fall under the policy and nontraditional works that include ownership questions about electronic copyrights, software, graphics, online instruction, and web sites. In addition, the IPC surveyed fifty university intellectual property policies for royalty distribution percentages, devising a matrix that proved critical in resolving royalty distribution. The matrix incorporated the shares of the creator, the college, the department, the University general fund, and the OSP. …