GW Commercialization Policies

The George Washington University (GW) maintains policies on ownership and management of inventions, scholarly works and creative works that provide incentives for GW faculty, staff and students to develop their ideas. These policies also help inform the GW community of laws governing intellectual property.

The GW Guidelines for Equity Investment in Start-Up Companies Involving GW Inventions (GW Equity Guidelines) apply to GW inventions in conjunction with the GW Patents and Scholarly Work Policy (GW Patent Policy). The Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) is responsible for following both the GW Patent Policy and GW Equity Guidelines and can be contacted for related questions.

GW Patents and Scholarly Work Policy
Distribution of income for GW inventions

GW seeks to serve the needs of society in the course of pursuing the traditional principles of education and research, as well as patient care. GW has dedicated itself and all its resources to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. It does not pursue knowledge for primarily commercial purposes. However, the university recognizes that the interest of the inventors and that of the university are better served when inventions and discoveries made by university faculty, staff or students are developed to the point of practical application. The university's policy on Patents and Scholarly Works is intended to facilitate that objective.

GW's Policy on Patents and Scholarly Work applies to all faculty, staff and students of the university. While it imposes certain obligations on faculty, staff and students who conduct research, the purpose of this document is to adopt an inventor-friendly process in dealing with patents and scholarly works.

GW Copyright Policy

The GW Copyright Policy pertains to all GW faculty, staff and students and is maintained by the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. GW encourages the creation and publication of scholarly, technical, literary and artistic works as part of its educational mission. Generally, when the faculty, librarians or students by their own initiative create copyrightable works, in pursuit of their normal scholarly, professional or academic responsibilities, including normal use of the university's physical facilities, the copyright and any resulting royalties may be claimed by the faculty, librarian or student as author of the copyrighted work. However, when a work qualifies as a “Work Made for Hire" or when "Substantial Use" of university resources is involved, as defined in the GW Copyright Policy, the copyright in such work shall be owned by or transferred to the university. When staff or students create copyrightable works within the scope of their employment duties at the university, the copyright will generally belong to GW. For faculty and librarians, GW only claims ownership of the copyright if the work qualifies as a “Work Made for Hire” or if the work's creation required “Substantial Use” of university resources.

GW Policy on Outside Interests, Relationships, and Professional Activities

The GW Policy on Outside Interests, Relationships, and Professional Activities pertains to all GW Faculty, Staff, Investigators, and Executives, collectively “GW Employees.” Outside professional activities, interests, and relationships that support the university’s mission and its commitment to a robust and innovative community while maintaining the highest ethical standards are generally accepted but may necessitate guidance or management. Conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment may occur when there is a divergence between an individual’s private interests and their professional responsibilities to the university. The identification of a potential, perceived, or actual conflict of interest or conflict of commitment does not imply wrongdoing. While there may be circumstances in which the university determines that a conflict cannot be managed, the university will make every effort to help GW Employees manage and mitigate potential, actual, or perceived conflicts. The Office of Ethics, Compliance, and Risk is responsible for overseeing implementation of and ensuring compliance with this policy. 

The GW Office of Research Integrity created a helpful summary of important conflict of interest and commitment issues that relate to technology transfer and commercialization activities, such as patenting and licensing of inventions. This is a great resource for GW inventors, especially when considering how conflicts may be managed when a licensing deal is being established with a company.

GW Institutional Conflict of Interest Policy

The GW Institutional Conflict of Interest Policy addresses situations in which a university interest creates an actual, potential, or perceived institutional conflict of interest related to decision-making on the part of university personnel, or the objectivity of research or education. Members of the university community are expected to disclose such potential interests and the university will examine through an institutional conflicts of interest review process whether an institutional conflict of interest exists and the potential strategies to manage, mitigate, or eliminate the conflict. The Office of Ethics, Compliance, and Risk is responsible for overseeing implementation of and ensuring compliance with this policy. 

GW Guidelines for Equity Investment in Start-Up Companies Involving GW Invention

The GW Equity Guidelines provide general direction for the structure of transactions with start-up companies to develop and commercialize GW discoveries, technological inventions and medical advances. An equity arrangement may be considered in certain situations where a start-up company does not have the financial ability to fund a market rate up front fee for the licensing of GW inventions. Start-up companies interested in licensing GW inventions should consult the GW Equity Guidelines. Faculty, staff and students interested in founding start-up companies to commercialize their GW inventions should also consult the GW Equity Guidelines.



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