Students’ Intellectual Property

Students' Intellectual Property

It is important for you to

  • Be aware of IP ownership
  • Know your creativity is highly encouraged and appreciated
  • Share creative ideas
  • Develop individual and collaborative creativity
  • Appreciate the opportunities that interdisciplinarity provides for creativity

Tell us what you have in this Disclosure Form. Please fill in the form and return to us by email (

This Handbook may help you understand more about how to protect your IP. (PDF version)

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property refers to the third kind of property, comparable to real property (e.g. house, land) and personal property (e.g. money, securities). IP is an intangible property residing human mind, i.e. “intellectual”. Given its value in current business and economic systems, the law assigns ownership rights, ie. IP rights, and provides means to protect IP rights. IP rights are commonly identified in several types, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, circuit layout designs, registered designs and trade secrets. Patents, trademarks and registered designs are all registrable, providing that certain requirements are fulfilled. Copyright, circuit layout design and trade secrets exist through statute and are granted autonomously.

If you have IP that you, working alone or with others, have created, developed or reduced to practice, please contact us. We also encourage you to purse collaborative and commercial opportunities as you feel appropriate. We will assist you in any way we can.


What kinds of works can be protected?

The generators of creative works may hold certain rights to Intellectual Property, known as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). These rights recognize ownership of IP. The establishment of Intellectual Property Rights is important because it ensures that the generators of new and creative works get recognized for their efforts and inventions. In this way it supports further innovation and creativity. The following is a website that lays out the laws that govern IP in Hong Kong: In general, there are 5 types of IP most relevant to you as student at CityU:

  1. Copyright: it protects expression of idea or creation in in literary works such as books and computer software, musical works such as musical compositions, dramatic works such as plays, artistic works such as drawings, paintings and sculptures, sound recordings, films, broadcasts, cable programmes and the typographical arrangement of published editions of literary, dramatic or musical works, as well as performers' performances;

  2. Patent: it protects inventions, ie. new and improved products and processes that are susceptible to industrial application;

  3. Registered Design: it protects only the appearance of product, the whole or a part of it resulting from the features of lines, shape, colours or materials;

  4. Layout-Design of Integrated Circuit: it protects the original layout-design for incorporation into an integrated circuit;

  5. Trade secret: it protects undisclosed and confidential commercial information, such as formulaes, methods, technologies, designs, product specifications, business plan and client lists.

Something CANNOT be protected by patents:

  • Mathematical algorithms
  • Scientific theories or principles
  • Laws of nature
  • Natural phenomena
  • Abstract ideas
  • Printed matter
  • Ideas
  • Suggestions
  • Computer program as such (more information about patenting computer program can be found in FAQs section below)

Something CANNOT be protected by copyright:

  • Ideas
  • Names, titles, slogan or other short phrases
  • Unfixed works
  • Works in public domain

Examples of students’ IPs

  1. Pointing device for interactive with touch-sensitive devices and methods thereof (HK Short Term Patent No. HK1179820 and HK1182275)
    Inventor: David Chung and Carmen Lam (Year 3 SCM students)
    Type of IP: Patent

  2. Omni Directional Light Probe (HK Registered Design 1301446.1 filed on 26.08.2013)
    Inventor: Lau Tsz Kit, Wong Hoi Ling, Yeung Sin Yu, Siu Hoi Sing, (Year 1 CSE students)
    Type of IP: Registered Design

  3. “Our Fathers Revolution”, documentary series produced by COM students (2012) aired on SUN TV from 9 to 10 Jan., 2013
    Type of IP: Copyright

  4. “Mobile Device and Cloud Server based Intelligent Health Monitoring Systems” (patent pending)
    Major Inventors: Ching Hong Yan and Choi Chi Kuen
    Type of IP: Patent
    Awards: My Own Discovery Contest 2014, Hong Kong ICT Awards 2014 – Best Student Invention, Cyberport Creative Micro Fund

Selected Student Success Story



What is disclosure and why does it matter?

Disclosure means you make your ideas. For example, you may describe your ideas in your blogs or your facebook. You may publish your discovery in journal. Public disclosure of your discoveries and innovation will make you lose your right to file patent or to register your design. If you generate any type of IP, you can use the Disclosure Form for Student to inform the University of the IP. The University will explain to you the issue of ownership in respect of all types of IP according to the University Policy on Intellectual Property.


Who owns the Intellectual Property?

Students and the university are sometimes considered the joint creators of IP and joint owners of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and thus jointly share in any commercial benefits. This recognizes the joint efforts of groups of students, faculty, and university resources that are put together to create something new. Determination of ownership is described in the University Policy on Intellectual Property.

Under the University Intellectual Property Policy, in general you own the IP you generated, such as the copyrights of dissertations, theses, films, computer programs and research papers, patents, registered designs and trade secrets created in the course of or for the purposes of their studies at the University. As the generator/creator of the IP, you will always be deemed the inventor of the IP. There are however exceptions. If students receive financial support from the University in the form of wages or studentships, or use of University resources and intensive supervision from University faculties, then the intellectual property will be owned by the University. In this case, students are entitled to income sharing like the University staff. For details, please refer to clause 10.8.1b in the University Intellectual Property Policy.

For postgraduate/research students, any IP generated is seen as the result of interaction between the postgraduate/research student and the University's academic staff, and, therefore, jointly developed. In cases where the work is commercially viable, the University will seek to obtain IP protection (such as a patent or registered design). In such circumstances, the student will be deemed as University staff in respect of the Intellectual Property ownership and will be entitled to the same benefits of remuneration as University staff.


Why is the intellectual property important to you?

In your study at City University of Hong Kong you may be part of a process that involves the creation of Intellectual Property, or the use of IP owned by others, so it is important for you to understand something about it.

  • Copyright is perhaps the most common form of IP associated with coursework. In relation to “student work.” The policy states: “Copyright in all original work produced by students in the course of or for the purposes of their studies, scholarship or research with or at the University shall be owned by the students concerned. ..The University will, however, have a royalty-free and non-exclusive perpetual license to use such work for normal University educational and operational purposes. In addition, the University may authorize other staff or students to use such work including but not limited to digitization, but subject to attribution” (page 8 of the University Policy on Intellectual Property).

  • City University of Hong Kong’s IP policy covers all staff and all students. Students are defined as “any student registered on a programme of study leading to the degrees or other academic awards of the University as approved by the Senate” (page 2 of the University Policy on Intellectual Property).

  • Often students are involved in projects with outside businesses or organization. In these cases, the ownership of the IP is defined by the agreement with the outside party. But also in these cases students must be aware of the fact that they may be using data or other IP owned by the company. Students are expected to protect the confidentiality of the data and in some cases may be asked to sign a form recognizing this. If you need helps when you involve in projects with outside businesses or organization, please contact Dr Eric Chan by email ( or by phone at 34427500.

  • You may encounter different types of IP in your different courses.
    • If you are involved in engineering, IP often takes the form of a patent or industrial design.
    • If you take courses related to Social Entrepreneurship, you may be involved in developing business ideas for the non-profit sector that attempt to address social problems. This type of IP can develop into IP in the form of a social franchise (See the following for models: In addition, your ideas may involve technological solutions to solve social problems and, therefore, may be patentable.
    • In the Arts and Humanities, especially in the context of an on-line environment, the concept of “Creative Commons” has developed. The goal of this movement is to develop and support the legal and technical structure to maximize creativity while protecting IP. It works through the process of choosing from a variety of licenses. The main resource is:

  • Carefully following Copyright laws and regulations when it comes to photocopying materials or downloading music recognizes the IPR of the generator of the IP, just as you would want your ownership protected. RR Shaw Library at CityU has a website that gives valuable information on copyright law: .

Is computer program or mobile app patentable?

Generally speaking, computer programs and mobile apps are excluded from patentability. However, there are a number of granted patents related to computer programs, e.g. LZW (a lossless data compression algorithm), progress bar, Amazon’s “One-Click” patent. The question is why these software tools, or more precisely computer-implemented inventions, can be protected by patents. The answer is that modern living relies heavily on computer-implemented inventions, from mobile phones to household appliances, from medical instruments to airplane navigation systems, and from private cars to video recorders. Computer-implemented inventions can enhance their functionality and efficiency and thus increase their competitiveness.

To patent your computer programs, you need to be aware of a few points. First of all, your computer programs may implement your ideas or algorithm to solve some technical problems. If the ideas behind the computer programs or algorithms implemented in the computer programs comprise technical features/characters that provide technical solutions to problems, then the computer programs contain computer-implemented inventions which could be patentable subject matters. Therefore, you have to identify the computer-implemented invention(s) of your computer program which fulfill(s) the requirements of patentability, i.e. novelty, non-obviousness, usefulness, and being patentable subject matter.