I am a researcher working for a university, and I am forming a collaboration with an industry partner. This collaboration involves us both signing a contract related to IP. The contract states that "each party owns the foreground IP it generates during the project".

What I would like to know, is what it actually means to "own the IP" for an invention. Does this simply mean that this party has the right to patent the invention? And if that party decides not to patent the invention, then does "owning the IP" actually mean anything in practice? If I owned the IP, would this mean that the company would not be allowed to use it for free?

And on a related topic, let's say this collaboration goes ahead, and I write a paper describing this invention in detail, and publish it in public domain. Would I still own the IP? Or does putting something in the public domain mean that the IP is now public?

  • You're overthinking this. A contract with someone doesn't grant you any rights with regards to the public. The clause simply bars you from claiming ownership on something they develop. Everything else stays the same as it is now. If you write a paper today without applying for a patent then you don't have any IP. That won't change
    – user18033
    May 14, 2021 at 5:35
  • 1
    @DonQuiKong I'd encourage you to formalize your comment into an answer.
    – Eric S
    May 14, 2021 at 14:37
  • To get good answers you might better explain the situation, and the agreement - particularly your understanding the intent of it as one of the parties.
    – George White
    May 15, 2021 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


Hopefully the words of the agreement you have quoted are not the complete addressing of IP. If you and the company both own it equally that might mean that either party can file for a patent and, working a cross purposes, that either party could publish the invention potentially killing the ability for either to get maximum protection for the invention.

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