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 Patent Policy and GW Equity Guidelines and can be contacted for related questions.
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.
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.
The GW Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Commitment for Faculty and Investigators pertains to all GW faculty and people responsible for the design, conduct or reporting of externally sponsored university research (including all research scientists). Faculty and investigator activities shall be conducted in a manner that avoids inappropriate conflicts of interest and commitment. Conflicts of interest may occur when there is a divergence between a faculty member's private interests and professional service to GW. The goal of the University is to establish boundaries within which conflicts of interest are tolerable and beyond which they are intolerable; processes for review of actual and apparent conflicts of interest; and appropriate mechanisms for management of tolerable conflicts of interest. This policy, which is maintained by the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, can impact ownership of companies, consulting agreements, operating roles held and assignment of intellectual property rights by faculty and staff.
The GW Equity Guidelines provide general direction for the structure of transactions with startup 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.