UWI IP Policy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is copyright?
Copyright is a property right which the law gives to creators of literary works (including scholarly and scientific papers and examination questions) dramatic, musical and artistic works, databases, photographs, computer programs, films, broadcasts, cable programmes and the typographically arrangement of published editions.  For a work to enjoy copyright protection it must be original, in the sense that it should not be a mere copy of another work and, in addition, it must be recorded in a tangible form.  Certain prescribed requirements must be satisfied relating to the nationality or habitual residence of the author or the place of first publication of the work.  Copyright protection of a work is not dependent on registration or other formality. The owner of copyright in a work is given the exclusive right for a specified time to exploit the work, subject to prescribed exceptions.

When can the University claim ownership of the copyright in a student’s work?
When a student produces a work based on research or other scholarly activity conducted under the supervision of a staff member, and the supervision of that work is a requirement of a student’s academic programme, then the University will not claim ownership of the work EXCEPT in the following circumstances:

  • the staff involvement in the creation of the work is substantial and the University desires to exercise its rights based on this involvement; or
  • the work is part of a larger work over which the University intends to exercise its rights; or
  •  the use of the facilities, equipment or other resources of the University are substantially in excess of the norm for educational purposes

When can the University claim ownership of the copyright in a staff member’s work?
The UWI Policy maintains the traditional relationship between the University and staff members who are authors of scholarly and artistic works, whereby copyright in textbooks, monographs, papers, lecture notes, unpublished manuscripts, slides, musical compositions, works of art, and similar material, are the exclusive property of the staff member, except where they are produced as part of a sponsored programme or other agreement or where the University claims ownership under the Policy. 

The University owns copyright in a work in the following cases, unless another arrangement to the contrary was made in writing before the work was undertaken –

  • where the University specifically asks or directs a staff member to undertake the work; and
  • where the University employs staff for the express purpose of creating or producing works which may be eligible for copyright or where there is an explicit requirement in a job description for this responsibility (e.g. editors, film makers, media producers).

If the University generates income from the work that I created, will I receive any part of that income?
Where the University claims ownership of copyright in any work, the University will make an income agreement with the staff member or student who created the work. The income received is to be used first to meet all marketing costs and any costs associated with the protection or defence of the copyright, and also to repay any funds specifically advanced for the project by the University.  Further income will be distributed based on specific guidelines contained in the Policy.


When does the University own inventions developed by staff members and students?
Inventions which are made by a staff member within or partially within the staff member's normal field of activities or employment responsibilities or involving the significant use of space, funds or other facilities administered by the University, or by a student in the course of a programme of study at the University, shall be the property of the University.  If the University undertakes patenting and commercial development and exploitation of the invention, the staff member or student receives a share of the net income generated by the invention, as set out in the Policy.

How is the income generated from an invention distributed?

The following formula is used by the University:

To the inventor(s) - 50 % of net income  
To the originating department or Institute   - 20% of net income
To the originating Campus - 15% of net income
To the University or its Assignee   - 15% of net income

Funds received in accordance with the Policy by a Department or Campus or by the University may only be used for administrative purposes with special emphasis on research and scholarly activities.

What should I do when I have made an invention?
A staff member or student who has made an invention must disclose it promptly in writing to the Office of Research Development and Knowledge Transfer (ORDKT) using the UWI Invention Disclosure Form.  Where necessary, the ORDKT will provide assistance in completing the form.  An Intellectual Property Sub-Committee will then assess the Invention Disclosure and determine the ownership of the invention.  If the decision is that the invention is owned by the staff member or student, the staff member or student will be so advised in writing. The staff member or student is then free to commercialise the invention privately or may offer it to the University for exploitation or appraisal as provided in the Policy.  

If the Sub-Committee finds that invention is owned by the University, it will assess the invention for for patentability (or other means of protection) and commercial potential.  The University will not normally file a patent application unless it has decided to proceed with the commercial exploitation of the invention.

What are the requirements for patentability?
To be patentable an invention, which may be a process or product, must (a) be new; (b) involve an inventive step, that is, a step not obvious to anyone skilled in the subject, and (c) be capable of industrial application.

If UWI decides not to patent my invention, can I patent it myself?
If the University does not wish to proceed with the commercial exploitation of an invention owned by the University, then, at its discretion, it may: a) on request, assign in writing to the staff member or student (the inventors) all rights to the invention, but will retain a royalty-free licence to use the invention in its teaching and research programmes; or b) release the invention to the public domain.

How are UWI inventions commercialised?
Commercialisation of an invention owned by the University may take different forms including, but not limited to, (i) assignment for consideration (i.e. sale); (ii) licensing for consideration or (iii) equity participation in a spin-off company.


I would like to trademark a logo I developed for a UWI project.  How should I proceed?
Ownership of UWI marks is vested in the University.  A Faculty, department or other unit of the University or a staff member or a student organisation recognised by the University that wishes: a) to design or create a new trade mark; or b) to register a trade mark on behalf of the University or for a University- related project, must make a written submission with respect to the proposed trade mark to the University Registrar or designee. After consultation with legal and marketing personnel, the University Registrar or nominee will determine: a) whether or not to approve the mark as a UWI mark; and b) if the mark should be registered.  A trade mark created or registered by a staff member in the course of a contract of service with the University or by a student in connection with any University-related activity, holds that trade mark for and on behalf of the University.


Is a procedure for dispute resolution set out in the Policy?
Yes.  The dispute can be referred to a Board of Arbitration composed of one representative nominated by the University, one by the other party, and a third member selected by the two representatives thus chosen. The decision of the Board of Arbitration shall be final.

Where can I find additional information on intellectual property?
You can go to the Intellectual Property pages of the website of the Office of Research Development and Knowledge Transfer or the website of the Trinidad and Tobago or the website of the Trinidad and Tobago Intellectual Property Office at www.ipo.gov.tt or the website of the World Intellectual Property Organisation at www.wipo.int