Intellectual Property

Harvard faculty and staff seek to develop and explore new ideas, make breakthrough discoveries and contribute research findings to the global knowledge base. The University is committed to sharing its scholarship and research widely while appropriately protecting the ownership of the authored work or invention and the privacy of research subjects. Federal Relations staff monitors federal policy making around intellectual property generally, including patents, copyright rules, open access and technology transfer.

Copyright and Patents

Colleges and universities are charged with the responsibility of bringing the intellectual property of their faculty and staff into the public domain while protecting the ownership of the authored work or invention. Copyright laws protect original works, such as literary, musical, dramatic (including movies and the music that accompanies them), architectural, artistic and other intellectual creations from unauthorized reproduction, while patent laws cover property rights for inventors.

Open Access

Harvard is committed to storing, preserving and providing freely accessible scholarly articles to anyone who seeks it. With guidance and support from the Office for Scholarly Communication, many of Harvard’s schools have adopted open-access policies, thereby making a vast collection of research, scholarship and knowledge freely available in digital form. In addition, Harvard libraries have ground-breaking initiatives to enhance digital collections and make them easily accessible to students, scholars and the public.

Technology Transfer

Universities also endeavor to facilitate the movement of discoveries and ideas from the lab to the marketplace. Harvard's Office of Technology Development provides guidance in matters of intellectual property, serves as a bridge to industry, assists in patenting and licensing faculty inventions and discoveries, and fosters startup ventures, among other things.