See Copyright FAQ  for details on copyright ownership and who is covered by the UC copyright policy. If you have any questions regarding commercialization of software or these FAQ, please contact TDG at

Does the University own the software I created?  If so, why?

Probably, but please speak with UCLA’s Technology Development Group.  Software can fall under at least 2 classes of intellectual property rights, including (1) patent rights, to the extent the software is potentially patentable; and (2) copyright, which protects the expression of the program.  Please see UC’s Patent Policy and UC’s Copyright Policy 

Please further note that University developed tangible research products, which includes “biological materials, compounds, cell lines, software, etc.” are also governed by University policy and ownership is generally with the University.  See University of California Faculty Handbook, October 1995 and Guidelines for the University’s “Principles Regarding Future Research Results, August 1999.

How is revenue generated by Copyrightable works distributed?

The new UCLA policy governing the distribution of revenue received with respect to non-patented IP went into effect on July 9th, 2018. Please see our UCLA Administrative Policies. Below is a high-level explanation of this new policy:

  • Whether the new policy applies depends on when the license agreement generating the revenue was executed, for example:
    • The new policy will NOT apply to income generated from licenses executed prior to July 9th, 2018.  The previously agreed upon distribution will continue to apply.
    • The new policy WILL apply to income generated from licenses executed after July 9th, 2018.  This is true even when the UCLA Case generating the revenue:
      • was disclosed to TDG prior to July 9th, 2018, or
      • was licensed by TDG (pursuant to a separate license agreement) prior to July 9th, 2018.
  • There is a $50K threshold that determines which distribution is used each fiscal year (e.g., July 1 to June 30) for any agreements subject to the new policy. 
    • Thus, distributions for a UCLA Case could be done in accordance with the patent waterfall one fiscal year, and the copyright waterfall policy the next fiscal year, and the patent policy the following fiscal year, etc.
  • Determining whether the $50K threshold has been exceeded is determined on a per UCLA Case basis, NOT on a per license basis.
    • Note revenue received with respect to a single UCLA Case may need to be divided between “pre-July 2018 license agt related” vs. “post-July 2018 license agt related”.
  • If the $50K threshold is exceeded, then the FULL amount of the revenue received during that fiscal year is distributed in accordance with the patent waterfall policy.
  • Policy exceptions:  Where the facts warrant an exception to policy, there is a mechanism for authors to obtain one via VCR Roger Wakimoto.  The request must be provided in the form of a written letter drafted and signed by all of the authors, wherein the letter details the exception requested and why it is warranted in such case.

Here is a scenario that may help explain this language:

If the fiscal revenue received with respect to a single copyright case in relation to a post-July 9, 2018 license is $49,000, then the $49k is distributed in accordance with the NON-patent policy waterfall. 

If the fiscal revenue received with respect to a single copyright case in relation to a post-July 9, 2018 license is $51,000 (instead of $49k, for example), then the ENTIRE $51k is distributed in accordance with the PATENT policy waterfall (rather than the NON-patent policy). 

Can I use software that I created for commercial purposes?

The answer depends largely on the ownership status of the copyright in the software as well as the existence (if any) of underlying patent rights in the software.  In addition, please note the software may also constitute tangible research property, ownership of which generally resides with the University.  If you have any questions regarding ownership of software or whether you are able to use software for commercial purposes, please contact UCLA’s Technology Development Group at

Can I share software I create with others?

Assuming the software was entirely created by you and there are no third party obligations or restrictions that prevent you or the University from doing so (e.g., University sponsored research agreement or material transfer agreement containing obligations to a third party, you incorporated code that carries with it distribution restrictions, etc.), probably.  Please see the Open Source and Other Software Sharing Options