Intellectual Property Policy

If you invent something reasonably related to the work you were hired to do at the UI, you are required under your employment contract and/or by the UI Intellectual Property (IP) Policy policy to assign all IP rights for that invention to the UI. The UI would also have ownership of any other inventions created using significant UI resources. If the invention was developed in collaboration with inventors at other institutions or companies, their employers may be co-owners of the IP. In that case, the UI will collaborate with the other institution to assess, patent, and commercialize the invention.

Conflicts of Commitment and Interest Policies

Given the breadth of activities conducted in fulfillment of the University’s mission, unique policies govern key areas of the University enterprise.  Disclosure, review, and management are critical to the application of the following Conflicts of Commitment and Interest policies. Under these policies, few activities that represent, or appear to represent, a conflict are actually prohibited.  Rather, the rules require conflicts to be disclosed, reviewed, and managed appropriately.

For information regarding management of conflicts of commitment or interest, please consult the UI Commitment and Interest Policies page directly. 

Could sharing data under the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy impact your ability to patent inventions?

The UI Research Foundation is available to help researchers navigate the process.

NIH recognizes the importance of federally-funded university research in the commercial development of inventions that benefit the public, and the agency has recently released an FAQ answer that addresses concerns university inventors might have about the impact that data sharing might have on their ability to obtain patent protection for inventions. 

NIH suggests that researchers with inventions submit an update to their data sharing plans if they need time to evaluate and potentially protect their inventions through a patent application filing.  The agency also indicates that delays of up to 60 days for such an evaluation and filing period would generally be viewed as reasonable, but that researchers should ultimately share data no later than the associated publication.

This 60-day timeframe does provide the UI Research Foundation (UIRF) with adequate time to work with you on evaluation and potential patent filing for your invention.  In fact, whether federally-funded or not, UIRF would seek to complete such a review and filing before your publication, as publications can limit our ability to obtain broad patent protection.  When you submit an invention disclosure to UIRF, let us know if and when you will be sharing your data or publishing a manuscript, so we can be sure to work within this timeframe.

If you are not sure whether sharing your data would make your invention obvious to others, impacting your ability to get a patent or perhaps inspiring others to independently come up with the invention, contact UIRF and we can go through the data with you.

Current UI Revenue Distribution Policy

Once out-of-pocket expenses incurred by UIRF are recovered, distributable income* generated from license agreements will be distributed as follows:

  • 25% of distributable income to University inventor(s)
  • 25% of distributable income to the UIRF
  • 20% of distributable income to an institutional "research enrichment fund" (REF) administered on a discretionary basis by the University of Iowa Vice President for Research 
  • 15% of distributable income to the unit from which the invention arose (or, in the absence of a unit, to the college)
  • 15% of distributable income to the college from which the invention arose (or, in the absence of a college, to the REF)

*Per the UI IP Policy:  Gross UIRF earnings, less its out-of-pocket expenses, less payments required to others, are designated as "distributable income."


Please note that the Revenue Distribution policy was most recently amended May 6th, 2019 to that described above.  Distribution of proceeds and income for inventions and copyrightable works disclosed to UIRF prior to such amendment will continue to follow the distribution in effect on the date the invention or copyrightable work was disclosed. If you have questions regarding previous distribution policy, please contact one of our accounting staff members.

Requesting a CDA

A Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA), sometimes called a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA),  is a legal contract that protects proprietary information and binds the parties to hold information in confidence for a set period of time. The CDA specifies how the receiving party will use the information, emphasizing the recipient’s handling and protection of the confidential information. What is considered confidential information?

  • Information exchanged between two parties that the receiving party is required to keep confidential and not disclose to a third party
  • Information that is NOT common knowledge or known to the public

Investigators are not an authorized signatory for the University of Iowa. If you are in need of a CDA to discuss your work or you have been asked by a company to sign a CDA, either UIRF or the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP) must sign the CDA. For CDAs covering UI intellectual property or a disclosed invention, please contact one of our licensing staff members. For all other CDAs please reach out to DSP.