Researchers have the same intellectual property rights as other staff, unless the particular funding body has imposed special requirements. Any special requirements will be notified to staff on appointment. These rights will be referred to in the contract of employment and are in accordance with published University Intellectual Property Rights policy.

Researchers must comply with the terms of any funding agreements governing their research. These include:

  • intellectual property rights
  • publication and/or confidentiality clauses within funding agreements
  • confidentiality agreements
  • material transfer agreements (MTAs) if materials used in the research were obtained under such terms.

The University of Cambridge does not enter into an agreement with a third party for research funding or obtain materials without the agreement of the principal investigator. If there is no restriction on intellectual property rights or confidentiality, and the principal investigator agrees, the researcher is free to publish. Researchers should be aware that publishing results prior to filing a patent application may mean the results can not be protected or commercialised at a later date, so it is important that the inventors agree which course to pursue ('patent and publish', delay publication for a specified time or 'just publish').

Researchers who feel that

  • their work is inappropriately restrained
  • their right to publish or disseminate the results of their work is not being respected
  • they are not being given due credit for their work
  • they are restricted from exercising intellectual freedom

should raise the matter, in the first instance, with the supervisor or principal investigator(s) concerned. If no agreement can be reached, a researcher should approach their head of department. If the matter remains unresolved, the researcher may wish to raise it under the University's grievance procedures. These procedures allow for both informal and formal resolutions.

Researchers are required to disclose any intellectual property which may be patentable. This should be disclosed to to their Head of Department/Chair of Faculty Board and to Cambridge Enterprise Limited. Cambridge Enterprise Limited acts for the University in such matters. This is to allow Cambridge Enterprise Limited to review the intellectual property for any obligations to sponsors and responsibilities to students.

All forms of intellectual property that do not require registration, such as copyright in literary works and software, belong to the creator, unless a funding agreement provides otherwise or unless the intellectual property is contained in documents created for the administrative or managerial purposes of the University or commissioned by the University (e.g. examination papers, library catalogues, special reports on policy or management). Where creators own the intellectual property, they may choose to commercialise it with the assistance of Cambridge Enterprise Limited, using the revenue-sharing arrangements which are part of the policy on intellectual property rights.

Any member of University staff, including researchers, may engage in consultancy with external organisations and any advice given during consultancy will not normally be regarded as forming part of any contractual obligations to the University. If researchers choose to undertake consultancy through the University's trading subsidiary, Cambridge University Technical Services (CUTS) Limited, which is administered by Cambridge Enterprise Limited, they may use University headed stationery. They are insured under the University's insurance policies. If the head of department consents, researchers undertaking consultancy through CUTS Ltd may use University facilities for the provision of services.

Alternatively, any member of University staff, including researchers, may undertake consultancy in an entirely private capacity (i.e. not through CUTS Ltd). In this case, such staff must not

  • represent themselves as acting on behalf of the University
  • use University headed stationery
  • use University premises, facilities or resources

They will not be covered under the University's insurance policies.