Should there be corporate concern?. Examining American university intellectual property policies

Publication Date01 Mar 2003
AuthorCory R. Fine,James Ottavio Castagnera
SubjectAccounting & finance,HR & organizational behaviour,Information & knowledge management
Should there be corporate
Examining American university
intellectual property policies
Cory R. Fine
University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, USA, and
James Ottavio Castagnera
Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, USA
Keywords Intellectual property, Policy, Universities, Patents, Corporate strategy, Research
Abstract Academia is an industry like many of those in the private sector. It produces valuable
patents, copyrights and other intellectual property. Consequently, the “research for sale” industry
by way of corporate/university partnerships continues to grow. While it is certain that academics
participating directly in corporate research partnerships are required to abide by project
confidentiality agreements, their colleagues and other academic researchers peripherally involved
may only be required to adhere to their own university’s policies, which may or may not be
sufficient. From a corporate executive and strategic policy standpoint, important questions arise.
Are corporate interests protected by the presence of valid university intellectual property policies, or
should there be concern? In an effort to answer this question, our article examines university
policies for the purpose of determining which academic institutions are more likely to maintain
protective policies, private or public, and which policies are most prevalent amongst universities:
patent, copyright, general loyalty clauses, invention, trademark or trade-secret policies.
Establishing the duty to loyalty
Examining the seminal US employment-law concept, the duty of loyalty begins
with understanding the “servant’s” traditional common-law duty of loyalty to
the “master.” Today this is often embodied in various forms of non-competition
agreements, under which the employee expressly agrees to refrain from
competing against or misappropriating the proprietary knowledge of the
employer. US courts often will enforce such promises, if properly supported by
legal consideration flowing to the servant[1]. In some US states, legislatures
have seen fit to capture or revise the common law loyalty rules in statutes[2].
Non-competition policies, though, are usually found embodied in an
employment contract and/or employment policy. Non-competition clauses, as
well as patent, inventions and trade secret rules of all sorts within contracts
and policies have become standard within corporate industry. However, there
exists no wide-ranging study of these strategic employment policies among
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The authors want to thank Anthony Belfiore, a Rider University graduate student for his
research assistance.
Should there be
Journal of Intellectual Capital
Vol. 4 No. 1, 2003
pp. 49-60
qMCB UP Limited
DOI 10.1108/14691930310455388

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