Who Does My Work Belong To? 

When a student is selected for a research, internship, or other opportunity with an organization, some steps need to be considered to protect both parties. In addition to the considerations below, the student and the organization should have a learning agreement, indemnification agreement, waiver and proof of insurance in place.

Intellectual Property (IP)

Undergraduate students are not subject to the University’s patent and copyright policies while engaging in tuition supported course activities.  As such, under many circumstances undergraduate students own any Intellectual Property (IP) they create and are free to assign those IP rights to others.  It should be noted that undergraduate students who join a faculty research lab or make material use of a University resource not otherwise provided in exchange for their tuition, may be subject to the UC Patent Policy and/or UC Copyright Policy.

During an internship, it is expected that students will be embedded with the host company and will make meaningful contributions towards the goals of the company.  The quality and depth of the student’s internship experience may depend upon the company’s confidence that they will not lose control of their IP.   A willingness to assign IP developed by the student during an internship should be a clear expectation for both the student intern and host company.  

To avoid any potential conflicts between host company IP expectations and UC policies on use of funds, resources and facilities, student internship activities should be thoughtfully managed by the company and University.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA)

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) are customary between parties seeking to engage in collaborative efforts while ensuring that their ideas are protected from third party disclosure.  A NDA not only protects a company from having its sensitive business information shared with competitors, it also ensures that potentially patentable innovations remain unpublished for purposes of seeking “first-inventor-to-file” status with the US Patent and Trademark Office.   Undergraduate student interns should expect to enter a NDA with their host company, covering the activities related to the internship.  University faculty, graduate students, staff and other researchers may also enter NDA with host companies but should be sure the terms of the NDA are not in conflict with preexisting employment obligations under the UC Patent Policy and/or UC Copyright Policy.  Questions in this regard can be fielded by UCSD’s Technology Transfer Office at invent@ucsd.edu.

Research and Internship Compliance

  • The student researcher or intern will demonstrate professional and ethical conduct in the workplace such as punctuality, dress code and professional communication. Organizations will also treat the student researcher or intern with the same level of respect they show their employees.  
  • Organizations will provide training for the student researcher or intern where necessary. These may include issues relating to general lab and chemical safety, biosafety, animal welfare, controlled substances, etc. 

After I Find a Position, What's Next?