I was recently offered a funded masters program in the field of mathematical modelling and computer coding. I was given a contract to sign which I subsequently declined because I was unhappy with a clause that looked something like (my summary of the clause):
The student acknowledges that all rights to and interests in all intellectual property (including patents), and rights relating to know-how[, etc.] belong to the company.
At the time (and with my limited understanding of IP) I chose to decline the contract because the clause seemed too restrictive and ambiguous to me.
The part about patents seemed the most onerous. From what I understand (though I could be wrong on this), this means that any algorithm I produce for them over the course of the masters program could potentially be patented by them.
I have been thinking about contacting them again to see whether they would be happy to change the contract. Two questions:
- Am I correct that this is a particularly onerous clause, or am I just overthinking it?
- Given the fact that this is an industry funded project, and that they will want some long term benefit out of it, is it reasonable to ask that the patent rights wouldn't belong to them? Would there be any way in which I could ask them for some middle ground compromise, e.g., maybe by asking that if they wanted patent rights, that they could only have them for, say, 5 years?