Industrial and intellectual property in academic works at the UPC

Rights related to industrial and intellectual property with respect to academic works produced by UPC students may only be exercised in accordance with the provisions of relevant regulations and legislation in force.

Industrial property Comprises a series of exclusive rights that protect both the innovative activity required to develop new products, processes or designs, and commercial activity, by exclusively identifying products and services offered on the market. [Multimedia Patent and Trademark Guide]
Intellectual property Comprises personal and property rights that confer on the author full control over and the exclusive right to exploit a work, without any limitations other than those laid down in the Act. [Art. 2, Royal Legislative Decree 1/1996, of 12 April, approving the Intellectual Property Act]

The UPC has a procedure for the prevention and detection of plagiarism of academic works subject to academic evaluation (approved in Governing Council Decision CG/2019/05/10, of 8 October, 2019):

Plagiarism prevention procedure


To avoid plagiarism in your work, we offer you several resources:

Avoid plagiarism


You may also be interested in these recommendations on writing your thesis: where to start, how to search for information and use what you have found, how to write and present it and how it is published once you have passed:

Six steps to make your bachelor's or master's thesis a success

As established by the Regulations on Industrial and Intellectual Property Rights at the UPC:

Result Technology, knowledge, know-how, processes and creations that have been generated within the framework of the academic, teaching and research activities of the UPC.
Invention A result that is liable for protection of industrial property rights (including patents, industrial designs, use models, etc.).
Work A result that is liable for protection of intellectual property rights (including software, for example).

Intellectual property law governs rights over works, as opposed to inventions and other research results that can be protected by patents, confidentiality agreements or other industrial property rights.

  • When making an invention derived from the content of an academic work, it must be subject to confidentiality until the invention is protected.

  • Bachelor's, masters's and doctoral theses and other academic works are subject to intellectual property rights, that is, copyright.

  • Copyright is generally divided into moral rights and exploitation rights.


Moral rights A set of unwaivable and inalienable rights that include the right to be recognised as the author of his or her work and the right to prevent any modification thereof that might be detrimental to his or her legitimate interests.
Exploitation rights

The author of a work is exclusively entitled to exercise the exploitation rights, which, unlike moral rights, may be transferred to third parties (on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis). Therefore, the work of another author may only be exploited if the consent of the author and/or holder of rights has been obtained, or if one of the exceptions set out in the Intellectual Property Act applies. These rights are:

  • Right of reproduction: copying of the work (photocopying, scanning, etc.)
  • Right of distribution: distribution of physical copies of the work (loans, rentals, distribution of copies, etc.)
  • Right of public communication: dissemination of works without distribution of physical copies (publication on websites or intranets, film screenings or presentations, broadcasting of musical works, etc.)
  • Right to make derivative works: creation of derivative works (translations, children’s adaptations, etc.)

    As established by the Regulations on Industrial and Intellectual Property Rights at the UPC:

    Industrial property
    • UPC students hold the ownership and exploitation rights of the inventions they have developed within the framework of an academic activity.
    • In the case of inventions made by UPC students with UPC staff, the ownership and exploitation rights of the inventions correspond to the UPC students and the University, in the proportion that corresponds to them according to the significant and original intellectual contribution of each of the inventors in their development.
    • In both cases, the UPC has reserved a right of use for academic, teaching and research activities on inventions, although the inventor may revoke it at any time by submitting a written request to the UPC, in which reasonable grounds are given for revoking the right [Art. 4.1.1.].
    Intellectual property (copyright)
    • UPC students hold the authorship and ownership and exploitation rights of the works they have developed within the framework of an academic activity.
    • In the case of works resulting from works developed by UPC students together with UPC staff, the authorship corresponds to both UPC students and UPC staff, and the ownership of exploitation rights corresponds to UPC students and the University, in the proportion that corresponds to them according to the significant and original intellectual contribution of each of the authors in their development.
    • In both cases, the UPC has reserved a right of use for academic, teaching and research activities on the work, although the author can revoke it at any time by submitting a written request to the UPC, in which reasonable grounds are given for revoking the right [Art. 4.1.2].
    Transfer of rights
    • The students of the UPC and the university can agree on the assignment of the exploitation rights on the results of the students in favour of the UPC, so that the university is in charge of the tasks of protection and exploitation.
    • In this case, the students of the UPC and the university will sign an assignment agreement, which will establish the compensation that corresponds to the students of the UPC [Art. 4.2].
    Co-ownership agreement
    • In the case of co-ownership between the students of the UPC and the University, both parties must sign a co-ownership agreement, in which the protection and exploitation of the results regime are established, as well as the rights and obligations corresponding to each party, taking into account their participation in the results [Art. 4.3].

    As detailed in the following articles of the Regulations on the Industrial and Intellectual Property Rights at the UPC, the exploitation of works subject to agreements with companies is subject to the clauses that determine the confidentiality and/or ownership of industrial and intellectual property over the results.


    Agreement or contract
    • The development of a research project by members of the university community within the framework of its activity at the UPC, in collaboration or on behalf of third parties, regardless of the branch of knowledge to which it refers, requires the subscription of the corresponding R&D agreement, collaboration agreement or contract for the commissioning of scientific, technical or artistic work or technical support, as applicable, under the terms stipulated by internal UPC regulations [Art. 6.1].
    Ownership of rights
    • The regime of ownership of the rights over the results obtained in the framework of the execution of the corresponding agreement or contract, as well as the distribution of the exploitation rights that derive from them, must be foreseen in the agreement or contract [Art. 6.2].
    • In carrying out these activities and negotiating the agreements or contracts, the rights that may correspond to the UPC under these regulations must be respected [Art. 6.3].

    Other related articles of the 2020/21 Academic Regulations for Bachelor's and Master's Degrees are:

    TFG/TFM and confidenciality

    (Art. 3.1.5)

    • In the event that the TFG/TFM contains information and/or documentation of a confidential nature or other aspects that affect the protection of intellectual and/or industrial property rights, the examiners will be informed before the defense is carried out public of the work, so that it can establish the necessary mechanisms to ensure that these aspects are not publicized [...].
    • The student can request the confidentiality of the work to the professor responsible for the direction, coordination or tutoring of the TFG/TFM or to the speaker, in the event that the project is developed in a company. This request must include an end date (with a maximum period of 5 years) and supporting documentation, such as the confidentiality agreement between the company and the UPC. [...]. The teacher or the speaker can also directly propose the confidentiality of the work to the management of the center [...].
    • If the end date of confidentiality exceeds 5 years, the documentary justification must also consider this aspect and there must be an explicit authorization from the management of the center.

    TFG/TFM deposit

    (Art. 3.5)

    • The TFG/TFM will be deposited in UPCommons in open access. Authors may indicate (if applicable) a Creative Commons license declaring the conditions of use that they authorize for their work.
    • The publication in open access in UPCommons of the TFG/TFM does not imply a transfer of the exploitation rights of the TFG/TFM to the UPC.
    • Authors may oppose access, consultation and loan of the TFG/TFM when their rights to privacy, honor and/or image are violated, or when confidentiality obligations assumed by the author, when documented, according to section 3.1.5 of this regulation [...].
    • Those TFG/TFM that contain unauthorized personal data will also be excluded from the publication in open access in UPCommons.

    Some important aspects to remember in relation to the aforementioned articles of UPC regulations are:

    Industrial property
    • If the student wants to create an invention derived from his work, he should communicate to the University his interest in its protection. This notification must be given before the thesis is publicly defended to ensure that its content is kept confidential by the author and anyone else involved (e,g. the examiners).
    • Maintaining confidentiality is essential to apply for a patent for any future invention, A patent ensures the enjoyment of industrial property rights related to an invention by the beneficiary who registers it, to whom a series of exclusive rights of use are granted for a specified period [Cercaterm].
    Intellectual property (copyright)
    • The authors of the academic works who own the intellectual property are those who are entitled to reproduce, distribute or publicly communicate the works, make derivative works, and/or transfer exploitation rights to third parties. However, any act of exploitation must meet the following requirements:
      • The work does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any third party.
      • There is no agreement or contract, entered into with a third pary, whose terms preclude the act of exploitation. This requirement would not be met, for example, in the case of a bachelor's thesis that is subject to confidentiality provisions required by a company where work on the thesis was done. Such provisions are detailed in the corresponding agreement.


    As established by the Regulations on Industrial and Intellectual Property Rights at the UPC:

    Industrial and intellectual property
    • The authorship of a doctoral thesis corresponds to the doctoral student. In accordance with Royal Decree 99/2011, of 28 January, which regulates official doctoral studies, doctoral theses, once they have passed, are published by the UPC in an open electronic format in an institutional repository, to which the author cannot object, except in the exceptional circumstances provided for in the applicable regulations.
    • If doctoral theses give rise to a new result, the exploitation rights on this result correspond to the doctoral student, unless UPC staff have actively contributed to generating it, in which case the UPC has the right to participate in the exploitation rights of the result in the proportion that corresponds according to the participation of its staff in obtaining the result.
    • If the doctoral student carries out these activities in the framework of an employment relationship with the UPC, the regime applicable to the results is what is foreseen for the results generated by UPC staff (Article 3) [Art. 7.4].
    Agreements with third parties
    • Doctoral students and industrial doctoral students: the agreements that the UPC subscribes with companies or collaborating entities and the doctoral student to carry out industrial doctorate projects in the company or collaborating entity must expressly provide for the system of attribution of the results that may be generated [Art. 7.5].

    The following provisions are set out in the UPC’s Academic Regulations for Doctoral Studies in the sections indicated:


    Protection process
    • In exceptional circumstances—if, for example, companies have been involved in developing a thesis, confidentiality agreements have been entered into with companies or there is the possibility that the content of a thesis may lead to a patent—a doctoral candidate may request a specific procedure to ensure that the relevant information is not made public in the thesis defence or when the thesis is deposited in institutional repositories.
    • The doctoral candidate must expressly request that the academic committee of the programme apply this procedure, before the deposit and in the manner stipulated by the committee [Section 10.3].
    • In particular cases, the academic committee of the doctoral programme may take measures to ensure that aspects of the thesis liable to be patented are not disclosed during the defence, as laid out in Section 10.3 [Section 15.1].
    Institutional deposit
    • To enhance the visibility of theses and increase the citation impact of their authors, once a doctoral thesis has received a positive assessment it will be published in the UPC’s open-access repository for doctoral theses (UPCommons) and in the repository for Catalan universities (TDX).
    • If the thesis contains any confidential material, or if the author has signed a contract or undertaking with a publication to which he or she is transferring his or her copyright, it will be published in the TDX repository when the thesis protection or copyright transfer process ends [Section 15.4].

    Some important aspects to remember in relation to the aforementioned articles of the UPC regulations are:

    Industrial property
    • To give effect to this provision, when a doctoral candidate has entered into a confidentiality agreement with a company in relation to his or her thesis, or patents related to its content may be generated, he or she must submit documents certifying that this is the case to the academic committee of the corresponding doctoral programme, as detailed on the website of the UPC’s Doctoral School.
    Intellectual property (copyright)
    • Given that the author of the thesis remains the exclusive owner of all associated rights, only he or she may perform any other act of exploitation or transfer of rights—for example, by translating the thesis, publishing it for sale or granting a Creative Commons licence.
    • The University reserves the non-exclusive right to publicly communicate the thesis by depositing it in the UPCommons and TDX institutional repositories. Notwithstanding the UPC’s (non-exclusive) right to publicly communicate theses, they shall not be disseminated in the following cases:
      • The work infringes the intellectual property rights of one or more third parties.
      • A patent application may be filed based on the content of the thesis.
      • Confidentiality agreements with third parties are in force (e.g. with companies or publishers).

    Although exploitation rights in a work (reproduction, distribution, public communication and making of derivative works) are originally vested in the author, he or she may transfer these rights to a third party on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis, provided there are no intellectual property issues that prevent this.

    Non-exclusive transfers

    Permit the receiving party (assignee) to use the work in accordance with the terms of the assignment agreement and concurrently with other assignees and the assignor. The rights of assignees are non-transferable.

    Exclusive assignment agreements Give the receiving party (assignee) the right to exploit the work on an exclusive basis (i.e. to the exclusion of the owner and all others), and, unless otherwise agreed, the right to grant non-exclusive authorisations to third parties.
    • When a student who is the author of an academic work disseminates his or her work via UPCommons, he or she is transferring his or her right to publicly communicate the work to the University on a non-exclusive basis.
    • This means the University is only authorised to publish the work in its own repositories. The student remains the exclusive owner of the rights and as such may perform any other act of exploitation, or enter into other agreements involving the transfer of rights. For example, only the author of a work can have it translated, publish it for sale or grant a Creative Commons licence.

    In order to facilitate the use of the academic works deposited in UPCommons or TDX, students can grant one ot six Creative Commons (CC) licences. In this way, users know they can use the works without having to obtain authorisation from the autors.

    WITH CC licence

    The author allows specific uses of the work to be made that are more permissive than those allowed by the Intellectual Property Act:

    • All CC licences allow users to reproduce, distribute and publicly communicate the works.
    • Depending on the licence chosen, the author can also allow the commercialisation and/or creation of derivative works (translations, etc.).
    • The user must always mention and recognize the authorship, and provide a link to the original CC licence in case the work is reused or disseminated.
    NO CC licence

    The works can ONLY be used in accordance with the Intellectual Property Act:

    • A reservation of rights is established by which, without prejudice to existing legal exemptions (such as private copying or the right to citation), reproduction, distribution, public communication or transformation of the work is prohibited.
    • The user of the work who wishes to use the work in any way that is not a legal exemption must contact the author and/or owner of the rights to request permission.

    More information


    If an author wishes to publish a work that has already been deposited in a repository, problems may arise only if the party to whom rights are transferred (i.e. the publisher) is unwilling to accept the previous dissemination of the original work (preprint). However, it is important to bear in mind the following points:

    • Many publishers and academic journals accept the deposit of preprints in institutional repositories.
    • In any case, the publication of a work in the University’s institutional repository makes it more accessible and internationally visible. This is demonstrated by the fact that many companies and researchers seek to contact students after their work has been added to the repository. For example, some publishers have shown an interest in publishing book versions of works after viewing them in the repository.

    If the publication of a work goes ahead, the copyright transfer agreement or the publisher’s publication rules should specify whether the transfer of rights is exclusive, what rights the author is transferring and the duration and geographic scope of the agreement.

    If the transfer agreement or publication rules do not specify these details, the transfer of rights shall be limited to five years and shall apply in the country in which the transfer is made, and the forms of exploitation shall be those which are essential for the performance of the agreement.

    Authors should take steps to ensure that a publisher is trustworthy before accepting an offer to publish, and seek legal advice before signing any kind of publishing contract.

    There are some publishers, described as “predatory”, which engage in practices that are highly dubious from an ethical perspective and in terms of scientific rigour:

    • Publishers of this kind contact an author (usually by email) and offer to publish his or her work free of charge, but publication is based on a print-on-demand system that simply involves printing copies of the academic works, without any kind of review, analysis or other editing work being done by the publisher.
    • Purchasers think they are buying a published book. In fact, what they get is merely a copy of an academic work with a cover added. Moreover, in many cases, the same work can be found in an open-access repository or on a university website.
    • The work enters the publishing circuit, and the author will not receive any payment unless a minimum number of printed copies are ordered. In short, the publisher does no work and takes no financial risk.
    • Publications of this kind do not provide the recognition or prestige authors seek; in fact, they have just the opposite effect.
    • If an author transfers the exploitation rights of his or her work to a predatory publisher on an exclusive basis, he or she will not be able to publish the work through other, prestigious publishers (who would provide services of editorial and scientific value).

    You can use the following links to access more information on the kind of practices predatory publishers engage in:

    In accordance with the Order of the Minister of Culture of 15 October, 1992, which approved the general criteria for the evaluation and selection of documents and the corresponding model proposal, documents that contain significant data on science and technology must be kept. University theses are included in this assumption.

    In addition, Law 10/2001, of 13 July, on Files and Documents provides that public documents produced by administrative bodies must be conserved and made accessible, provided steps are taken to ensure that legally protected data is not made public.


    • Works that cannot be consulted online via the repository may be consulted in the depository library or at a school archive (if the library does not hold a copy of the work in its collection).
    • Works whose content may affect the confidentiality or industrial property rights of third parties will not be made available for public consultation.

    Darrera actualització: 28/07/2021