Internships and Jobs while in School or Training:
Guidelines for Grad Students and Post-docs
Grad students working in internships and jobs while in school have to manage potential conflicts between their interests, the interests of the College, and interests of the company, as well as overlapping intellectual property (IP) rights. Students may be asked to sign confidentiality or intellectual property agreements, and it is critical to protect their ability to continue their academic research, publish their theses, and safeguard intellectual property rights relating to the academic research, while still fulfilling the company’s requirements regarding confidentiality and intellectual property rights. Students should discuss the issues in advance with the company and their faculty adviser, and if necessary with the Technology Transfer Office (TTO).
What projects will the student be working on during the internship or job?
- If the project is related to the student’s area of academic research, the faculty adviser should be consulted, and together they should determine if there is a risk of overlap that could involve intellectual property or publication rights.
- Students should not use unpublished research from the College in their work for the Company or share it with anyone at the Company without permission from the faculty PI or the TTO.
- Students should not use confidential or proprietary Company information in their academic research or share it without written permission from the Company.
If existing College IP is involved in the Project, consult the TTO. Consider whether a provisional patent application should be filed on IP that the student may disclose to the company. If a company has funded the academic research, check for encumbrances in the sponsored research agreement.
- When internship projects are closely aligned with the student’s academic research, the student and the company should agree in advance on how they will handle any new IP, and how publications (including the student’s thesis) will be reviewed and released.
- If the company conducts work related to research the student is involved in, but the student will be working on unrelated projects for the company, consider putting that in writing signed by the student and the company.
What is the source of funding or support for the internship or job?
The funding/support source may create some obligations, including regarding IP or publication. Review these provisions carefully, especially any requirements for the student to assign IP or limit publications.
If the College, or a foundation or other source provides funding or support for the intern, the College may have to sign off on assignments of IP created by the student during the internship.
If the student internship is supported by federal funds, IP cannot be assigned to the Company, unless it is a training grant (Bayh-Dole regulations provide that “no scholarship, fellowship, training grant, or other funding agreement made by a Federal agency primarily to an awardee for educational purposes will contain any provision giving the Federal agency any rights to inventions made by the awardee." 37 CFR 401, Sec. 401.1(b)
When the student is employed by a Company that is providing funding or other support, IP resulting from the student’s work usually belongs to the Company, unless the work is performed using Dartmouth resources. Students do not have the authority to assign IP that results from their work at Dartmouth, however, whether it was done before the engagement with the Company or afterwards. For example if they have follow-on ideas once they return to campus, these can not be excluded from Dartmouth, no matter what the students signed with the Company
Is the Company requiring a Confidentiality or Non-disclosure agreement, or an IP agreement, or an employment agreement?
Review carefully any confidentiality and non-disclosure requirements. Do not hesitate to ask for time to have the terms reviewed by an advisor or the Tech Transfer Office.
Review carefully any requirements that IP be assigned to the Company. Be sure that existing IP is excluded and that the scope of the required assignment appropriately covers only the work being performed for the Company.
Be aware that an employment agreement may incorporate additional IP or nondisclosure policies in a separate document, like an employee handbook.
Questions? Call Kim Rosenfield, Contracts Manager, Dartmouth Technology Transfer Office