AAUP Recommends Principles to Protect Faculty Rights to Their Work

October 11, 2013

The American Association of University Professors, in a draft report that documents recent battles over faculty intellectual property, has recommended a detailed set of principles it says colleges should adopt to protect the inventions, courses, writings, and other materials produced by professors.

The report's 10 principles center on such issues as how sponsored-research agreements are managed, shared governance and the management of inventions, and exclusive and nonexclusive licensing. The goal, the association says, is for colleges to incorporate the principles into faculty handbooks and collective-bargaining agreements.

As an example of a problem the association is seeking to avoid, the report says some colleges tell professors that the colleges have the rights to their inventions, despite a landmark Supreme Court ruling two years ago, in Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems Inc., that said universities and the government don't have an automatic right to patents that may result from federally financed research.

Much of the draft report, released on Thursday, was adapted from an AAUP document that proposes guidelines for relationships between academics and industry. That document will become a book-length study that the AAUP plans to publish in early 2014.