U promotes intellectual property rights

A policy change allows students to own the rights to their inventions.

Not every college student can say that their higher education experience included the opportunity to design and market their own inventions. But at the University of Minnesota, students not only get to actively design and create products for class, but they now own the rights to their intellectual property, something the University possessed prior to last week.

The Minnesota Daily reported last week that the policy change came “in response to faculty and student requests over the years.” The University’s new policy is similar to how other Big Ten schools, including the University of Illinois, Penn State University and Purdue University, approach intellectual property. Before the change, students had to report their inventions to the Office for Technology Commercialization, and the University could market them at will to potential buyers.

Though it still may be beneficial for students to partner with the University in order to successfully market their inventions — largely because of the University’s resources and vast network — it’s appropriate that students now have the rights to their own work.

The University undoubtedly gains recognition and money from student work, so the new policy strikes a balance.

The policy change gives greater freedom to entrepreneurial programs, senior design programs and student research at the University. Students will now have a say in how and to whom their product is marketed.

Creeping corporate influence into higher education and research should not exploit the student work and creativity. This policy change is a step toward protecting the integrity of the University and its students.