1400.00 Intellectual Property, Research, and the Technology Transfer Office (TTO)

The MSU Technology Transfer Office (TTO) works with PI’s to commercialize the inventions of MSU faculty, spur entrepreneurship based on MSU technology and provide a gateway for industry looking to utilize MSU resources. The TTO works to develop associations with private industry and to facilitate private sponsors of research at MSU. Faculty members or other employees participating in research or other activities are required by Board of Regents and a number of other pertinent MSU policies, to disclose to the Technology Transfer Office and/or Office of Research Compliance any patentable discoveries or copyrightable works for hire developed as an employee of Montana State University. This disclosure allows both offices to assist in protection of the works and commercialization. The Board of Regents Policies on Employee Equity Interest and/or Business Participation require Board of Regents approvals for the following interests and activities:

  1. Employee inventor or creator ownership, or award of an equity interest or similar participation in the ownership, of a business entity;
  2. Employee inventor or creator participation as a director, officer, or as a member of the board of directors or other governing board of a business entity; or
  3. Employment of the employee inventor or creator by the business entity. 

The Technology Transfer Office also works with PI’s to assess and pursue patents, copyrights and trademarks, identify potential licenses for intellectual property, and review Material Transfer Agreements (MTA’s).

1410.00 Patents, Copyright, and Trademark

TTO will meet with PI’s to discuss the applicability of their research to industry and identify possible inventions. As a result of faculty meetings or in response to unsolicited disclosures, the TTO reviews Intellectual Property Disclosure Forms (IPDF’s) submitted by inventors. TTO Staff then determines the possibility of securing IP protection based on such factors as novelty, uniqueness, and usefulness, and will pursue patent or other legal protection in accordance with the Board of Regents, Inventions and Patents Policy and the MSU Patent Policy. Protections are also in place for Student Patent Rights and Copyrights. In accordance with Montana Board of Regents Policy on Copyrights, TTO will assess whether it is appropriate to protect creative works through copyright and names or logos through trademark. Works subject to copyright include but are not limited to computer programs, visual aids, manuals, and public relations material. Uniform Guidance, Section 200.448, details allowable and unallowable costs on Federal awards related to securing patents and copyrights.

1420.00 Licensing

Intellectual property accepted by the TTO will be assigned by the inventor/creator to MSU. The TTO, with assistance from the inventor/creator and potentially Office of Research Compliance, will identify potential licensees for intellectual property developed at the University. This includes patented ideas, copyrighted works, and trade secrets. TTO is responsible for negotiating licensing agreements with potential licensees and is the office that is authorized to enter into agreements related to the use of intellectual property owned by the University. License revenue for technologies developed at MSU are equally divided between inventors and MSU.

1430.00 Material Transfer Agreements (MTA’s)

The TTO is the office designated by Montana State University to review all academic and commercial MTA’s for incoming material. “Material” or “materials” are defined as those materials that the provider is supplying that include portions, purebred progeny, and unmodified derivatives of the original material. Consistent with MSU’s Policy on Material Transfer Agreements (MTA’s), the TTO is authorized to sign MTA’s on behalf of MSU if they are acceptable under MSU’s policies and consistent with MSU’s academic mission. Faculty will need to complete the “Materials Transfer Agreement” form that has been adopted for use by MSU in all transfers of research materials.

1440.00 Industry Use of University Resources

If a business requests access to or use of University research facilities such as research equipment, research animals, diagnostic and chemical analysis laboratories, the Plant Growth Center, or similar resource or facility, TTO will determine whether such use is appropriate and authorized under University policy and will enter into appropriate use agreement with the company or individual. The “Research Facilities/Equipment Use Agreement” form will need to be completed and approved before access to facilities or equipment is permitted.