Intellectual Property Office

IP training and support

Intellectual Property (IP) includes copyright, patents, copyright, industrial designs, trademarks, and trade secrets. Faculty, staff, and students all develop IP day-to-day at Dalhousie. These may take the form of innovative inventions, or a student's thesis.

The Intellectual Property Office provides ongoing training and support for all manner of intellectual property issues at Dalhousie.  We are here to answer any questions you may have regarding your intellectual property.

Feel free to reach out to with any questions or concerns. We are also available for IP Training sessions for academic and non-academic units, or research groups.

Dalhousie's Intellectual Property Policy

Dalhousie University has developed an Intellectual Property Policy that governs ownership of intellectual property by Dalhousie faculty, staff, and students.

The policy is based on applicable legislation and Dalhousie's collective bargaining agreements. The policy also defines and clarifies common ownership scenarios, such as research agreements.

Sharing Openly

Dalhousie has also created an Open License to assist in the open sharing of material copyright by Dalhousie University. This license allows Dalhousie-owned material to be shared, adapted, and reused without the need for permission. It can be used to share Dalhousie-owned materials to the widest audience possible, but does not include use of the Dalhousie brand and logo.

Frequently asked questions

1. Who owns my intellectual property at Dalhousie?

Ownership of IP is governed by collective agreements and relevant legislation. Ownership of IP, including copyright and patents, can also be transferred to another party by contract. This includes transferring ownership of your patents or copyrighted works to external funders or publishers.

Research involving human participants, such as Indigenous peoples or communities, may require community ownership or co-ownership of research output.

Students: As a student, you are the default owner of your intellectual property, including your thesis.

When you are hired as a researcher or other employee, you may not own the employed research work that overlaps with your studies. In these cases, such as research that will be used for employment and a graduate thesis, it is best to clarify IP ownership at the outset of your employment.

DFA members: Under article 23 of the DFA Collective Agreement, you own the majority of your intellectual property developed at Dalhousie. This includes teaching and research material, and in some cases the university gains temporary rights to work such as software, developed for administrative purposes at Dalhousie.

There are exceptions for tasks assigned outside of normal duties. For instance, if you are being contracted to develop a course or document outside of your typical workload, that work may be owned by Dalhousie.

CUPE members: You hold the rights to your lectures and lecture material, under article 23.2 of the CUPE – LOCAL 3912 collective agreement. This does not include items such as syllabi, course outlines, examinations, tests and assignments. However, CUPE members may be hired on individual contracts for the purpose of developing teaching material for the university.

NSGEU / DPMG members: Dalhousie owns the rights to any copyright or inventions (patents) you develop in the normal course of your employment.

PSAC members / Post-Doctoral fellows: PSAC members currently do not have an IP clause in their collective agreement, and should discuss IP ownership with the relevant unit lead.

2. What are assigned tasks?

Assigned tasks are a type of work referred to in Dalhousie collective agreements. Assigned tasks are duties outside of your normal job description, that are arranged with your unit head or supervisor. In some cases, the IP for this work is then owned by the university. For instance, the development of a course, that will be held by the department rather than the individual instructor.

3. Do I need an IP agreement for student researchers?

Student researchers may be considered students, employees, or co-investigators, and all of these identities have different default states of IP ownership. Many research environments are also dictated by funder agreements, wherein the funder retains the right to any copyright or patents.

It is advisable to discuss and record IP ownership at the outset of hiring a student researcher. In all cases, students should be able to use their research towards their studies or graduate thesis, where applicable.

Please contact the IP Office if you would like to discuss an IP agreement or arrangement involving a student researcher.

4. Who can grant permission for works owned by Dalhousie?

Relevant unit heads can grant permission to use works owned by Dalhousie, such as a copyrighted document.

Use of the Dalhousie brand and logo must be cleared with Communications and Marketing.

5. How should Indigenous Traditional Knowledge be used in Research, Education, or Community Engagement?

All Intellectual Property relating to Indigenous peoples and communities, including, but
not limited to, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, shall be respectful of the Royal Commission
on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to
Action and Principles of Reconciliation, the Calls for Justice in the Missing and Murdered
Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report, and the United Nations Declaration of the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Research involving Indigenous peoples and communities, including, but not limited to,
First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, shall follow guidelines, definitions, and policies established
by the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics. This includes, but is not limited to,
the ownership of research output and data, assignment of rights, and any associated
licenses. Ownership should be specified in a research agreement. These guidelines may
also apply to international research.

Teaching and other material using Indigenous Traditional Knowledge should be used in
consultation with the relevant community, where applicable. This includes, but is not
limited to, research conducted without human participants, such as land-based research.
It also includes but is not limited to, non-research material, such as communications or
promotional material. Relevant guidelines can be found through consultation with the
relevant communities, and via templates, such as the Mi’kmaq Ecological Knowledge
Study Protocol.

Please consult the Indigenous Research Resources website, or contact for more information on research or community outreach involving Indigenous individuals or communities.

6. How do I resolve conflicts over intellectual property?

In general, conflicts are best dealt with at an informal level. It is advisable for persons in conflict to seek mediation or other forms of informal dispute resolution. Persons in conflict can find assistance in dispute resolution from their unit head. Relevant collective agreements, such as the DFA Agreement, contain more details on conflict resolution for IP disputes.

7. What kind of training and support is available?

The IP Office is available for targeted training for all units at Dalhousie. Feel free to reach out and arrange a time and format that works best for you.

Additional resources

Copyright Office - Copyright support for teaching and learning. 

Indigenous Research Resources - Resources and advice for the use and ownership of research involving Indigenous peoples or communities.

Office of Commercialization and Industry Engagement - Assistance liaising with industry partners or commercializing your IP.

Research Data Management - Assistance with managing data related to research, and meeting funder and publisher guides for data management.

Scholarly Communications and Research Impact - Assistance with negotiating publisher agreements and maximizing research impact.