Re: Student Patent Policy at Caltech and UC

Kragen Sitaker (
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 17:21:13 -0500 (EST)

On Tue, 12 Jan 1999, Rohit Khare wrote:
> In a discussion with Jim over guidance for his undergraduate 125b
> project students doing DAV work, I argued that the Univeristy of
> California logically owns code that students write in the pursuit of
> degrees. In that, I was arguing by analogy to the Caltech Patent
> Acknowledgemnt all incoming students are required to sign:
> ...
> 2. The Institute agrees that rights of all other inventions or computer
> software made or written by me with the use of Institute facilities are
> to be retained by me, except for computer software which is written in
> connection with or used in the educational program of the Institute
> (e.g., course work, homework, theses), for which the Institute shall
> obtain an irrevocable royalty-free, nonexclusive license, with the
> right to grant sublicenses, for any purpose whatsoever.
> Which is, in turn, much like the one I signed for grad courses at MIT.

This is very lenient -- you keep all your patents and copyrights, but
Caltech gets to use them and give away licenses to them.

> UC undergrads, though, are not routinely expected to sign the UC Policy.
> I think this shows a lack of confidence, that the tens of thousands of
> fine UC undergraduates are unlikely to be as inventive as Techers.
> Nevertheless, the formal policy still dictates:

You can't sign away copyright rights implicitly or verbally, IIRC. You
have to do it explicitly and in writing.

I don't know about patent rights.

These policies worry me quite a bit. Caltech's seems just, but UC's
sounds like pure profiteering. Is it a fucking public university
devoted to the furtherance of research and open inquiry, or is it a
business founded on intellectual property? It can't be both.

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
Computers are the tools of the devil. It is as simple as that. There is no
monotheism strong enough that it cannot be shaken by Unix or any Microsoft
product. The devil is real. He lives inside C programs. --