Intellectual Property Policies

“Policy on Patents and Copyright”, as adopted by the Board of Trustees, 2004 (from Faculty Handbook, 2022-2023, pp. 165-167) 

If a faculty member creates an invention while in the employment of Pomona College, the inventor should report the invention to the Office of the Dean of the College so that ownership can be determined in accordance with the criteria set out below:

  1. If the research has been carried on under a contract, grant, or other agreement for sponsored research, made between Pomona College and an external funding source such as the federal government or a private corporation, the stipulations of this contract will be followed.  For example, United States law gives the College the right to take title to inventions made under most government-sponsored research; if the College declines this right, the title normally passes automatically to the U.S. government, so that the public may have free use of an invention resulting from public expenditures.  In the absence of such an agreement for sponsored research, the granting of ownership rights will depend on the level of involvement of college resources in the research.
  2. If direct College support has been provided for the research through internal grants, or if the inventor has made significant use of College facilities, equipment, and supplies, the College shall have the right of first refusal to take ownership of the invention.  The College may submit the invention to Research Corporation Technologies (RCT, see below).
  3. If the invention has been made with neither College support nor significant use of its facilities, the title and all rights to the invention shall pass to the inventor, and the inventor is free, at his or her own expense, to patent the invention and to retain any resulting royalties.  In this case, however, the name "Pomona College" may not be used in the marketing of such invention.  Any license agreement should be reviewed by a competent patent attorney before it is signed.  Particular attention should be paid to those provisions in the license agreement designed to minimize the licensor's liability arising out of the use of the patent by others and to secure the licensee's indemnification of the licensor against any such liability.

Research Corporation Technologies

Pomona College has a Confidentiality Agreement with Research Corporation Technologies (RCT).  Under this Agreement, the College may submit to RCT an invention in biomedical fields, and RCT confidentially evaluates its patentability and commercial value.  If this evaluation is positive, the College may engage RCT to (i) obtain patents (both U.S. and foreign, where appropriate), the title to which the College agrees to assign to RCT, (ii) mediate investment and development arrangements, and (iii) license the production and sales rights.  The terms of any agreement to market the invention would be negotiated.  For non-biomedical inventions, the Associate Dean of the College will work with RCT to identify an appropriate party to evaluate the invention's patentability and commercial value.


The policy of Pomona College on copyrights is different from that on patents, reflecting the traditional practice for written works.  Under the Copyright Act of 1976, an original work of authorship prepared by a College employee within the scope of his or her employment is a "work for hire" and by law the College is the "author" and hence initial owner of the copyright for such work.  However, in keeping with tradition, Pomona College relinquishes to the employee ownership both of works resulting from academic research and/or scholarly study and of creative works of music, literature, art, or computer programs.  The College, however, retains ownership of works created or commissioned for a specific institutional purpose, such as laboratory manuals and the like.  The College also reminds faculty that if copyrightable material is published without a copyright notice, the copyright may be lost.  The appropriate copyright notice should be placed on such work at the time the work is created.

General Use of College Facilities

In general, College facilities are not to be used for personal gain or commercial advantage.  If, in the development of copyrightable materials which result in royalties or other payments, a faculty member makes significant use of College equipment, facilities, and supplies, wherein the College incurs significant real costs, the faculty member should reimburse the College for these costs, or ownership of the resulting works should be assigned to the College.  Similarly, significant use of College facilities may not be made by faculty members in connection with outside consulting, done on a fee-for-service basis, unless it is for government or other consulting which is essentially pro bono and involves only a modest honorarium.  Otherwise, the College should be reimbursed for any significant real costs incurred.