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Copyright Commercialization

Commercializing and Protecting Copyright through MILO

What should I do if I’m interested in commercializing my copyright?

Copyright can be a very valuable asset and universities have often been successful in commercializing copyright, with Google® (which came out of Stanford University) being perhaps the most famous example. In most cases, copyright is commercialized by licensing the work to third parties, either to a distributor or direct to an end user, usually for a fee. In some cases, it may become part of a joint venture or spin-off company.

If you have created something which you think has broader potential, the first step is to contact MILO's Copyright Officer. MILO can help identify any copyright issues and determine the most appropriate way to protect and commercialize your work. You should make sure that you have information and documentation about who was involved in creating the work, how it was funded, and any relevant agreements. MILO can then advise you as to what options you have if you wish to pursue commercialization.

How does the copyright commercialization process work?

Commercializing copyright at McMaster, St. Joseph’s Healthcare or Hamilton Health Sciences generally follows the following steps:

  1. Disclosure – When an author feels they have created something with commercial potential, they contact the Copyright Officer to discuss the creation. MILO will usually then ask the creator to complete the Copyright Disclosure Form.
  2. Assessment of Ownership – The Copyright Officer will review the disclosure form and determine who has an interest in the work, taking into account factors such as:
    • The authors’ affiliation to the university or hospital (e.g. faculty, student, employee, etc,)
    • Any funding or other agreement relating to the work
    • The degree and nature of the university or hospital involvement in the development of the work
    • The nature of the work in question
  3. Assessment of commercial potential -The Copyright Officer will then assess the commercial potential of the work, taking into account factors such as:
    • The nature and status of development of the work
    • The surrounding market environment
    • The costs of commercialization
  4. Commercialization - If the Copyright Officer determines that the work is suitable for commercialization, and the author(s) wish to proceed with commercialization, the university will obtain the necessary rights from the authors (and any other persons or organizations with an interest in the work) and proceed to commercialization, which can involve:
    • Securing intellectual property protection – e.g. attaching copyright notices, incorporating digital protection measures, registering trade-marks
    • Conducting market research
    • Preparing business plans and marketing strategies
    • Undertaking further development work
    • Marketing work to potential licensees
    • Negotiating and administering licensing agreements
    • Establishing a spin-off company

What can I do to protect my copyright? Do I need to register it or use the © symbol?

Your work is automatically protected by copyright from the moment it is created. You don’t have to mark your work with the © symbol, though it is advisable as it is a useful way to let others know that you are asserting copyright in the work and who they should contact if they wish to use it. A standard form of notice is ‘Copyright © 2006, Jane Doe’. You don’t have to register the copyright, though registration does have some benefits if your copyright is infringed. For more information about copyright registration, visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Regardless of what you want to do with your copyright, you should make sure you protect it to ensure that your interests are not jeopardized and the work is not misused. How to protect your copyright depends on what type of work it is and what you want to do with it. You have different options, such as copyright notices, licences, and technological protection measures. The best way to protect your copyright is by making sure people know what they can and can’t do with your work which can be as simple as a one page licence. You should contact MILO's Copyright Officer for more information.