Intellectual property, patents and confidentiality

Regarding project work/bachelor/master thesis at Chalmers

This information gives a legal background to the situation when a student chooses to do his or her thesis or project work in collaboration with a company or other organisation.
 

Intellectual property rights

Unless you enter into an agreement, or sign any contract transferring your rights to e.g. a company or other, you have the rights to the results you produce as ruled by law.
 
To give you the best possible opportunity to benefit from and spread your results Chalmers has guidelines that apply to co-operation between industry and the university. Questions about intellectual property rights and secrecy should be managed by discussions between the student/project team, supervisor and company. If you need assistance in more formal sense your supervisor and examiner will support you.
 

Confidentiality- and non-disclosure agreements

Sometimes the students, teachers and project teams need to handle secret information in order to carry out their tasks. It also occurs that the thesis or project work may produce patentable inventions which then must be confidential until filed for application.
 
Companies involved in collaboration may also ask students, supervisor, etc. to sign a secrecy-/confidentiality agreement, sometimes called non-disclosure agreement. In relation to the company the student has the responsibility of not disclosing or distributing received information or results to third parties without the company’s or organisation’s consent. Note that, such proposed agreement may consider sensitive information received from the company as well as results produced by the student or other non-employees of the company. Be aware if the conditions in the contract make you give up your right to the results, including the right of disclosing your results to the public. This may prevent the approval of the work by the examiner since the examination must be based on open and public material.
 

Thesis, reports and project work

The written final student thesis, report and project work produced by students, teacher or a team shall not be published unless agreed to by the author.
 

Public access

Reports, project results etc. reports are to be considered official documents at Chalmers when finalized. Thus, they may be subject to external review if someone explicitly requests to see them. If the reports contain information received from company or organisations such information may be considered confidential if within the prerequisites of the Public access to Information and Secrecy act. This legislation protects business interest of companies and organisations in collaboration with the university. The documents should be marked as “secret” or “confidential” to facilitate the administration.  However, material that constitute basis for examination must always be public in its entirety.
 

Examination

The final exposure of results, including the oral presentations, is in practice regarded a public event, which means that sensitive information should be avoided. This means that in case there are patentable inventions it is necessary  to submit a patent application before the public exhibition. As a general rule, patent opportunities and intentions regarding the students results produced within collaboration with a company or organisation shall always be discussed and agreed between the concerned parties in advance.
 

Model Agreements, contracts

You may contact your supervisor or examiner for guidance regarding intellectual property and contractual issues, and for the Chalmers’s model agreement for project work/bachelor/master thesis at Chalmers.
 

Published: Thu 10 Apr 2014. Modified: Wed 07 May 2014