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Intellectual property

As a HDR candidate, it is a requirement of admission to your Program that you assign IP to UQ.  This assignment of IP to UQ provides you with the same opportunities, rights and responsibilities as University staff in relation to the commercialisation and protection of any IP you have contributed to or created.

To assign your IP, read the information on this page and complete the Student Intellectual Property and Confidentiality Deed Poll (SIPC) form (DOCX, 62KB).

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) is the product of creative or intellectual efforts. Legal categories of IP include:

  • patents for inventions
  • copyright in a written work such as a thesis or journal article
  • trademarks for words or phrases
  • new designs of products
  • software and circuit layouts
  • new plant varieties.

IP can be owned, assigned and licensed, however it must first be defined and protected by law and legal agreements. IP rights then determine who may or may not own, use, protect, transfer, commercialise and develop these products.

As a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidate at The University of Queensland you’re recognised as a researcher participating in our academic community. Consequently, the University endeavours to ensure that our students have the same benefits as academic staff in the commercialisation of research, as identified in the University’s IP policy.

Our aim is to foster a research culture in which the creation of IP is valued, protected and, where applicable, commercialised, so that staff and students are supported and rewarded for its creation.

Why does the University ask you to assign your IP?

IP assignment transfers the right to use, commercialise and protect IP to another entity. By assigning your IP to the University, you will receive the same benefits and protections as University staff in the commercialisation of intellectual property.

This means that UQ will negotiate on your behalf to commercialise and protect inventions and will provide administrative, legal, financial and commercial expertise.

It also means that the costs of protecting and commercialising your discovery or invention will be borne by UQ, and you will receive a share of any commercial returns. This is important as the work that you do as part of your research may:

  • be part of a larger project
  • involve other staff or students of the University
  • involve international collaboration such as a joint PhD
  • involve confidential information or data that has already been generated
  • involve scholarships or research costs which are significantly funded by the University or a third party.

By assigning your IP to the University, we can negotiate with third parties such as industry bodies or investors on behalf of all our participants.

Does assigning the IP created in my research affect my ability to publish?

Copyright is a type of IP right that protects creative works, such as:

  • musical works
  • films
  • sound recordings
  • dramatic works
  • written works such as your thesis and publications from your thesis.

Copyright does not protect a concept, idea or fact, instead it protects the way ideas or information are expressed. Copyright allows the author or creator of the work to prevent others from copying the work without permission. You do not need to apply for copyright protection because, in Australia, copyright applies automatically upon creation of the work.

The term 'Thesis' means the Student’s thesis or any other work submitted by the Student for assessment purposes for the award of a research degree. This includes written forms of work and creative works. You will own the copyright in your thesis and any possible publications from your thesis (depending on the journal), even after assigning your project IP to UQ.

For more information on copyright, see the Australian Copyright Council website.

Whilst assignment of IP does not include assignment of copyright there are some third party agreements, particularly with industry related projects, that may require you to delay publication of your thesis or publications from the thesis for a limited period of time, or to remove confidential information before publication. In addition, if the IP generated in your project has commercial value and is registrable as a patent, confidentiality will be needed until registration is complete. Any delay of the publication of your thesis will not affect the examination process.

As you may also gain access to confidential material in the course of your research project, the agreement includes conditions regarding the use, storage and disclosure of such information. The confidentiality obligations do not apply to information that was already in your lawful possession prior to commencement in the program, is in or comes into the public domain lawfully, or is required to be disclosed by law.

How is IP assigned?

You’ll be requested to complete a Student Intellectual Property and Confidentiality Deed, which is a legal instrument in which you transfer your IP rights created as part of your study at UQ and excluding the copyright in your thesis and any publications of which you’re the sole author.

You may wish to seek independent legal advice before signing the deed, as it will assist you in understanding the legal consequences of the deed and offer the opportunity to clarify any queries or concerns you may have. If you’re a current student, the UQ Union Legal Service can assist you with free legal advice.

If you believe that your research project will use IP that you or a third party created before commencing at UQ, you need to contact your advisor to discuss. You may wish to seek independent legal advice to assist you with identifying this pre-existing IP. Once you have confirmed that background IP will be used in the research project, you’ll need to complete and lodge the Notification of Pre-existing IP form (PDF, 378MB) within 30 days of commencing your studies.

Confidential Information

You must:

  • not disclose any Confidential Information to any person without the prior written approval of The University of Queensland
  • not use any Confidential Information for any purpose other than the relevant Project
  • keep and store the Confidential Information secure from unauthorised access, and
  • deliver to The University of Queensland all Confidential Information in your possession or control if your participation in the Project comes to an end.

The confidentiality obligations do not apply to information which was already in your lawful possession prior to the date of this offer, is in or comes into the public domain lawfully, or is required to be disclosed by law.

You only need to complete the student IP and Confidentiality Deed Poll when someone has written to you to request it. If you receive this notice you should:

  1. sign and date on page 2 in the presence of a witness. The witness may be anybody over the age of 18.
  2. have your witness sign on page 2.
  3. fill out your student details in the schedule on page 3.

In order for this deed to be validly executed, the person executing the deed must have their signature attested to by an independent witness (who is not a party to the deed). The witness must sign his or her name in the appropriate place. The witness must be present when the deed is being executed and confirm the identity of the person whose signature they are witnessing. The witness must be 18 years of age or older and be of sound mind. Signatures can be eSignatures or wet ink (ballpoint pen).

Download the deed poll (DOCX, 62KB)

Reassignment of IP to HDR candidates

HDR candidates who have previously assigned IP to UQ via the Deed Poll may request IP to be reassigned to them in line with UQ’s Intellectual Property procedure. Please review the conditions and follow these steps to request reassignment of IP:

  1. Review and complete the IP Notification Form and send to
  2. The Graduate School will liaise with UniQuest to undertake an evaluation of IP and provide a determination.
  3. The Graduate School will notify you of this outcome and prompt you to complete the relevant deed, if applicable, to finalise the transfer.