Research data management

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are automatically assigned to the creator of an original work. This also applies to the creation of research data and plays a role when creating, sharing and re-using data. Although not a comprehensive legal guide, the following guide and links will help you to gain a basic understanding of IPR.

What is IPR?

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) can be defined as rights acquired over any work created or invented with the intellectual effort of an individual. 

Common types of IPR include copyrights, patents, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial design rights, integrated circuits and design layouts and confidential information (trade secrets).

Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights, such as the ability to publish to various markets, license the manufacture and distribution of inventions, and sue in case of unlawful or deceptive copying. 

As a researcher, you should clarify ownership of and rights relating to research data before a project starts. Ownership and rights will determine how the data can be managed into the future, so these should be documented early in a project through data management planning. (EDINA and Data Library, University of Edinburgh, Research Data MANTRA [online course],

Who owns the IPR to my data?

The copyright in work produced in the course of University employment is owned by the University. The University's policy on Exploitation and Commercialisation of Intellectual Property states that:

  • The University owns the intellectual property in all items whether in paper, electronic or other form created or devised by its staff in the course of their employment. The University may, where it considers appropriate, assign its rights to copyright in paper-based publication (e.g. books, articles in journals, conference presentations) to the member of staff who created them.
  • Intellectual Property, including Copyright, created by a student in the course of their studies or in connection with the work for their degrees or courses is generally owned by the student.
  • Exceptions to this may occur in circumstances where both student and staff have jointly created a work protected by an intellectual property right - the work may then be jointly owned by the student and the University.