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Discovery September 2000

Main Page On the Web Patents Corner Featured Stories In Focus

PATENTS CORNER

 

by Becky Mahurin

Board of Regents' policy allows university faculty to provide consulting services to entities outside the university. It is recognized that consulting is consistent with our outreach mission and provides faculty with experiences that may translate into improved classroom teaching.

MSU provides that faculty may consult up to one day a week. Faculty are required by policy to notify the client in writing that he/she is acting as a private consultant; the university is not party to the agreement; and that the university has no liability in regard to the work performed.

Faculty should also understand that their activities as consultants are subject to the Conflict of Interest Policy, as are all professional activities in which faculty may engage. Any activity that has the potential of conflicting with the faculty member's university duties must be disclosed in writing to the dean and department head.

Faculty may also use university equipment and facilities for consulting activities if it does not interfere with university needs. Such utilization must be fully compensated for by the faculty member.

This requires that faculty institute an up-front "use agreement" with the university. Any use of other university employees or students requires departmental approval.

Please note that MSU policy states that a consultant may not circumvent the patenting and copyrighting rules of the university by consulting. Should you create a patentable invention under a consulting arrangement, that patent, by your employment agreement, still must be assigned to MSU.

Regents' Policy also requires that each fall, each university unit must compile a consulting report for its campus. The Vice President for Research will be sending out a form for all faculty and professional employees to complete regarding consulting activities for the previous fiscal year. In this way we can better understand how many of our faculty are consulting and with what types of clients. This is one way in which we show that our faculty are reaching out to companies and other public entities to provide assistance.

Should you have questions about consulting, please contact me at 994-7868 or rmahurin@montana.edu.

Becky Mahurin
Director of the Technology Transfer Office at MSU

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