If a student comes up with a brilliant idea, design or piece of software while attending university, it will – in principle – remain his or her intellectual property. This has been established in the updated guidelines for student IP, which were presented on 23 September by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centers (NFU) and Dutch Students for Entrepreneurship (DutchSE).
According to the guidelines, universities will need to make arrangements before students join a research project or start an internship. When student and university agree that the university will assume ownership, the student will be become co-inventor and such will be eligible for compensation when the IP is monetized.
It is not allowed to force a student to transfer IP ownership, for example by withholding a grade. If necessary, the university will need to offer a fitting alternative assignment. In some cases, however, there are existing agreements in place that need to be honored. This is particularly the case when third parties are involved. Universities need to impress this upon students.
“By providing clear rules, this update stimulates student entrepreneurship,” commented Mirjam van Praag of the VSNU. Maartje Bakker of DutchSE calls it a “good first step.” Bakker would like to make the rules more accessible to students.