Poor Strategic Thinking

Who Owns Student Created Intellectual Property? addresses issues raised by the University of Missouri’s claim on 25% ownership and two-thirds of the profits on an iPhone app named NearBuy, created by four U Missouri students and downloaded 250,000 times.  The University backed off from these claims, revising its IP policy

to state that it will not claim an ownership interest in inventions created for school contests, by extracurricular clubs, or as the result of an individual’s initiative. However, if a student invention was created under a professor’s supervision or with the use of school resources or grant money, then the school can assert the same ownership right as it does for faculty inventions.

Think about this policy.  The University taxes its most entrepreneurial students, the ones with demonstrated ability to create products, businesses, jobs, and wealth.  After forced sharing of an early successful venture, what are the chances these students will return in 20 years to endow a chair, construct a new laboratory, or fund scholarships?

4 Replies to “Poor Strategic Thinking”

  1. Anand Brahmbhatt

    I think the argument that you make is great about how students will sort of "give back" to the school 20 years from now. The school, unless it has paid for the physical resources used, cannot claim ownership on this product. They should sort of set "precedent" with the policy then, if they want a share of the profits, then they better be wiling to take on the losses of other student made products. I think the school is being selfish, because I doubt that they would be willing to suffer monetary losses for their students. So what gives the school the right to claim ownership to the profitable?

  2. Natalie Kouyoumjian

    I think its interesting to see if Universities are biased towards profitable inventions. In this article, University of Missouri's claim of ownership was only wanted when the app was making a profit, so in my opinion they just saw the student as a profitable business venture and used their registration in the school to claim profit. I do think that trying to "tax" intelligent students will limit them from their own creativity. I also think that because an idea is made in area of the school (dorms, etc) does not allow a university to have a right to claim ownership of the product. It is inevitable for students to be creative in universities because of the setting, and the fact that students are living at school, and using that to profit off student creativity may allow the university to make profit in the short run, but as mentioned above, none of those students would come back and support the school again.

  3. PanConsultant

    I have a friend in Hopkins who recently worked on IP relating to the medical field. If it's work with a professor supervising/using school equipment/receives any funding, the school owns 100% of their IP once it comes out.

    So guess what they did? They halted mid-way through, and now are trying to do things by themselves

    We certainly can't expect these "not-for-profit" institutions to act like venture capitalists, but I'm surprised by how near-term benefit focused they are. Are the additional benefits for having outstandingly entrepreneurial alumni greater?

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