Intellectual Property Commercialization Policy

Final Approval Body: Board of Trustees

Senior Administrative Position with Responsibility: Vice-Principal, Research

Date Initially Approved: May, 2022


The definitions of words in the singular in this Policy shall apply to such words when used in the plural where the context so permits and vice versa.

1.    “Applicable Invention” means an Invention, wholly or partially created by one or more Researcher, Staff and/or Student (i) in the course of their employment by the University and/or (ii) with Use of University Facilities.
2.    “Computer Software” means any set of instructions or statements, expressed, fixed, embodied or stored in any manner, that is to be used directly or indirectly in a computer to bring about a specific result.
3.    “Contributor” means any Researcher(s), Student(s), and/or Staff who has made a material intellectual or creative contribution to an Invention.
4.    “Independent Commercialization” means the commercialization of an Applicable Invention without using the commercialization services of the University.
5.    “Indigenous Research” means “research in any field or discipline that is conducted by, grounded in or engaged with First Nations, Inuit, Métis or other Indigenous nations, communities, societies or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present” (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Definition of Terms, Government of Canada 2021).
6.    “Intellectual Property Agreement” or “IPA” means an agreement between the University and one or more Researcher(s) and/or Student(s) that outlines the required terms for the commercialization services to be provided by the University in relation to an Applicable Invention, including the process for the conveyance of ownership to the University, and the sharing of any net proceeds of commercialization.
7.    “Intellectual Property” means any subject matter that is eligible for protection by Intellectual Property Rights; such as, but not restricted to, works (including, e.g., creative works, Computer Software, documentation), inventions, trade-marks, industrial designs, trade secrets, and confidential information.
8.    “Intellectual Property Rights” means any right relating to Intellectual Property, such as, but not restricted to, rights to register copyrights and rights under copyrights, moral rights, rights to obtain patents and rights under patents, rights to register trade-marks and rights under trade-marks, rights to register industrial designs and rights under industrial designs, rights under trade secrets and confidential information, and other similar rights in any country.
9.    “Invention” means any Intellectual Property that is a new and useful art, process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement in any art, process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, whether or not it would be eligible for a patent.
10.    “Invention Disclosure Form” means the form that one or more applicable Researcher, Staff, and/or Student completes for submission to Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation to describe an Applicable Invention, which may include, among other information, an outline of relevant scientific and technical information, potential industry partners, sources of research funding used, and a list of all possible Contributors.
11.    “Researcher” means faculty members (whether part-time, full-time, emeritus or adjunct status) and post-doctoral fellows employed by, cross-appointed to, or under contract to provide personal services for the University.
12.    “Staff” means administrative, professional and support staff including technicians, teaching and research assistants, and teaching fellows employed by the University, or under contract to provide personal services for the University. For clarity, where a person fits within the definition of both Staff and Student, for the purposes of this Policy the person shall be considered Staff with respect to any Intellectual Property created in the performance of their employment (e.g., assigned or tasks within scope of role description), except for any Intellectual Property created for the purposes of their academic studies where the person shall be considered a Student.
13.    “Student” means all full or part-time students enrolled at the University, including without limitation undergraduate, graduate and visiting or exchange students from other institutions.
14.    “Supported Research” means research conducted, in whole or in part, by the University through its Researchers, Staff and/or Students, under an agreement between the University and one or more persons or other legal entities external to the University as outlined in the Queen’s Research Administration Policy.
15.    “University” means Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
16.    “Use of University Facilities” means the non-trivial use of a University research facility under the supervision of a Researcher. For the purposes of this Policy, use of University resources commonly available to Researchers and/or Student(s), such as wireless networks, maker spaces, libraries and other spaces open to the public, shall not be considered “Use of University Facilities”

1. Purpose of Policy

A key objective of the University is to create and disseminate knowledge, generated from intellectual inquiry, for public benefit. The creation and dissemination of knowledge includes the potential to create i) partnership opportunities; ii) innovation activities; and iii) economic impact (e.g., job creation, startup formation and technology licensing). The University has made it a priority to foster innovation by providing support services and programs to promote and enable innovation activities.

It should be noted that it is possible Intellectual Property may be created under different categories by an individual (e.g., a graduate student working as a research assistant). The frame of reference should be considered for each Invention for appropriate application of this policy. 

1.1 Ownership of Intellectual Property - Researcher(s) and Student(s)

All Intellectual Property wholly or partially created by a Researcher(s) and/or Student(s) (i) in the course of their employment by the University and/or (ii) with Use of University Facilities shall be owned by the Researcher(s) and/or Student(s) who creates it, except to the extent that such Researchers and/or Students have agreed to an alternative arrangement by written contract.

Where Intellectual Property is created by two or more Researchers and/or Students, such Intellectual Property will be owned by the creators in proportion to their respective contributions to its creation, except to the extent that such Researchers and/or Students have agreed to an alternative arrangement by written contract. The preceding division of ownership of Intellectual Property will still apply where one or more third parties, including Staff, contribute to the creation of such Intellectual Property. 

1.2 Ownership of Intellectual Property - Staff 

The University will own all Intellectual Property created by Staff in the course of employment or provision of services at the University, with the exception of Staff engaged in a research project that is supervised by a Researcher. In such exceptions, the Researcher shall own all Intellectual Property created by such Staff during the performance of, or related to, the research project supervised by such Researcher.

2. Scope

This Policy applies to all Intellectual Property created by a Researcher, Staff and/or Student in the course of their employment by the University, and/or enrollment at the University, and/or with Use of University Facilities. 

In the event of a conflict between the provisions of this Policy and the provisions of any current and/or future collective agreement covering a Researcher, Student, and/or Staff, the applicable collective agreement shall govern to the extent of the conflict.

This Policy does not apply to any Intellectual Property Rights in lecture materials, teaching materials, and course syllabuses (hereafter the “Educational Materials”), except where the University has directed the creation of such Educational Materials under a contract that specifies the University owns such Educational Materials.

This Policy does not address the ownership or conveyance of Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Rights related to or arising from Indigenous Research.

Related Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines

Commercialization of Applicable Inventions Procedure

Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Procedure

Table Summarizing Policy Guideline

Formation of a Startup to Commercialize Applicable Inventions Guideline

Policies Superseded by this Policy

Collective Agreements as noted above.


Responsible Officer: Vice-Principal, Research

Contact: Assistant Vice-Principal (Partnerships and Innovation)

Date for Next Review: 2027