RE: Student Patent Policy at Caltech and UC

Jim Whitehead (
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 14:28:03 -0800

I may not have explained the problem to Rohit correctly. The problem I'm
facing is how to transition code that was written by students as part of a
software engineering project course. The project was a required part of the
course, and was graded. The students did not receive any funding, federal
or otherwise, to perform this work. I provided some guidance for the
project, and I do receive funding off a DARPA grant (I think -- this varies
from month to month, depending on which pot of money my advisor uses to fund
me). But, I have not written any code.

So, the question I had was whether I need the student's permission to assign
the copyright on the code to U.C. Regents, since my understanding is they
own the IPR for classwork. Rohit's research seems to imply that, yes, I do.

- Jim

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Joe Touch []
> Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 1999 1:39 PM
> To:;
> Subject: Re: Student Patent Policy at Caltech and UC
> Hmmm -
> As matriculees of a degree program
> (or even just as enrollers of a class)
> students enter into a contract with the school.
> As GRA employees, another level is added to that.
> I would be surprised if an employee, as a function
> of their job, developed code on an employer's equipment,
> and it were NOT considered "property of the employer."
> That employer-employee relationship is clearly transitive,
> and has been in the past. So, if you're entering into
> a contract with a Univ, and they entered into a contract
> with the US Govt, then they have reasonably transferred their
> rights of ownership to the US Govt.
> Signing a patent agreement isn't necessarily required
> for any of this to take effect. Cashing a check is sufficient.
> Why is this surprising?
> Joe