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Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) (e.g. copyright, patents) affect the way both you and others can use your research outputs.

Failure to clarify rights at the start of the research process can lead to unexpected limitations to:

  • your research
  • its dissemination
  • future related research projects
  • associated profit or credit.

The full University Intellectual Property Rights Regulations (Chapter XIII of the University’s Statutes and Ordinances) are available online, and Guidance on the Regulations Concerning Intellectual Property Rights provides additional clarity on key subjects. For a place to start though, you may want to consult Cambridge Guidance Note on IP Policy in Practice: how it works, who to approach and when. Cambridge Enterprise, the University commercialisation arm, also provides information on IPR.


Frequently Asked Questions about Intellectual Property Rights


I own my data - can I do whatever I want with it?

If an agreement is reached with an external sponsor of research or a third party on behalf of and with the knowledge of the University staff and students, as a condition of sponsorship or research funding the University staff and students must abide by that sponsor’s or third party’s terms and conditions, inclusive of intellectual property rights, and data management and dissemination procedures.

In summary: if the sponsor or funder of your research requires you to share your data, you are obliged to do so.


Can I use materials that I find online?

It depends on how those materials are licensed. IPR is usually in play, even if you don't see a "©" or 'all rights reserved' notice. 

Who can help me with IPR questions?

Queries concerning IPR conditions in the sponsorship or funding agreement under which your research at the University is undertaken may be directed in the first instance to the appropriate Contracts Manager at the Research Office.

For general questions on IPR, contact the Legal Services Office:


For questions touching on commercialisation, contact Cambridge Enterprise:


What rights do other people have to request my work - i.e. Freedom of Information Act (FOI)?

The Freedom of Information Act of 2000 (FOI) gives all members of the public the right to request any information produced with public money, but there are some exemptions. The FOI website provides detailed guidelines about answering FOI requests at the University of Cambridge. Additionally, you can also register for a FOI workshop (run several times a year by the University of Cambridge Information Compliance Officer).