Information for Students

As the office entrusted with the stewardship of the intellectual property created at MIT, the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) often receives inquiries regarding ownership of intellectual property created by students. The policy for ownership of an invention developed by a student is the same as for faculty and research staff. Visit our page on invention ownership to learn more.

If you believe you may have an invention, whether or not you believe it is MIT-owned or that you own it personally, please contact the TLO for guidance on the possibility, means, and stages of development and commercialization or otherwise submit to us an MIT Technology Disclosure Form.

When submitted, the Technology Disclosure Form will initiate action by the TLO to investigate the patenting (or other methods of protection) and licensing of the technology unless the disclosure is requesting a waiver of MIT's ownership rights in the technology. 

HOW DOES MIT TREAT MY THESIS?

MIT’s Policy concerning ownership of copyrights in theses is stated in MIT’s Policies and Procedures and in Faculty Regulation 2.71: “The Institute will retain ownership of the copyrights to theses only if the thesis research is performed in whole or in part by the student with financial support in the form of wages, salary, stipend, or grant from funds administered by the Institute, and/or if the thesis research is performed in whole or in part utilizing equipment or facilities provided to the Institute under conditions that impose copyright restrictions. In all other cases, ownership of a copyright shall reside with the student.”

MIT does not assert rights to your thesis if it was authored without sponsored research funds and without significant use of MIT-administered facilities and funds. If you feel that MIT cannot or should not claim copyright ownership to your thesis, you may request a waiver of Institute copyright for your thesis by submitting a written application to the TLO.  Software code, patentable subject matter, and other Intellectual Property contained or disclosed in a thesis is also subject to MIT’s significant use policy. In order to protect an invention, a “hold” may be placed on your thesis (making it not publicly available) for 3 months.

Where you retain copyright ownership in your thesis, you must, as condition of a degree award, grant royalty-free permission to MIT to reproduce and publicly distribute copies of the thesis and must place the following legend on the thesis title page or page immediately following: 

“The author hereby grants to MIT permission to reproduce and to distribute publicly paper and electronic copies of this thesis document in whole or in part.”

Where copyright is retained by MIT, students are authorized to post electronic versions of their own thesis, in whole or in part, on the internet.  Any further publication in whole or in part shall be made only with MIT’s authorization.  Requests for permission to reuse or republish a thesis should be directed to permissions-lib@mit.edu. Guidance on current copyright procedures is included in the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published each year by the MIT Libraries. 

EXEMPT PROGRAMS

Inventions developed using funds or facilities by students participating in specific programs established to support education in innovation or entrepreneurship might be owned by individual inventors or authors, with some exceptions. These programs may fall under the "Exempt Programs" designation. The Vice President for Research maintains a current list of Exempt Programs as part of its Research Policies and Procedures. If you are developing a project in an exempt program which is based on an existing MIT-owned invention, you must inform the TLO and your faculty supervisor, faculty advisor, research advisor, Principal Investigator, or equivalent, and obtain permission or rights from the TLO. Otherwise, any further developments to the invention made or created through the Exempt Program will not be exempt from the “significant use” category. See MIT’s Significant Use Policy.

Inventions and Proprietary Information Agreements (IPIA)

All graduate students are expected to sign the Inventions and Proprietary Information Agreement (IPIA). The IPIA transfers ownership of your intellectual property to MIT as determined by MIT Policy and must be signed by all persons participating in research at MIT. Undergraduates participating in certain Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) projects or funded courses might be required to sign the IPIA and should contact the TLO to learn more. This form is required for MIT’s compliance with federal law and with our industrial and foundation funding contracts. The TLO is responsible for ensuring that it retains current and accurate IPIAs on file for all students. If you have any questions regarding the IPIA, please see this page or contact the TLO.

RESOURCES

MIT has a vibrant and supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem and the TLO encourages students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship to visit to our resources page to learn more about the many resources available to them.