Inventions and software

When EPFL researchers (or PhD candidates) make an invention in the course of their professional activity, the invention belongs to EPFL.

  1. With the exception of copyright, all other rights to intellectual property created during the official duties of persons in an empyment relationship as defined in Article 17 [of the Federal Act on the Federal Institutes of Technology] shall belong to the FITs [Federal Institutes of Technology] and research institutes.
  2. The exclusive right to use computer programs created by persons in the course of their official duties in an employment relationship as defined in Article 17 shall rest solely with the FITs and the research institutes. The FITs and research institutes may enter into binding arrangements with the holders of other categories of copyright for the assignment of those rights.
  3. Persons who have created intellectual property as defined in Clauses 1 and 2 shall be entitled to an adequate share in profits generated by its exploitation. 

(translated from Loi fédérale sur les écoles polytechniques fédérales, 2013, art. 36, par. 1-3)

Researchers are called to Notify the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) of any inventions they make to evaluate their patentability and commercial potential.

If an invention is the product of a collaboration with other institutions, the allocation of the rights is defined in a partnership agreement. The TTO is available to assist researchers in writing such agreements.

If a researcher (or PhD candidate) writes the entire source code for computer program in the course of his or her activity at EPFL, EPFL is the owner of the source code.(Federal law on the Federal Institutes of Technology, 2013, art. 36, par. 2)

If the work is based on code that is openly available, the license that applies to the original code is adopted.

The TTO is available for more information on this subject: [email protected].


Loi fédérale sur les écoles polytechniques fédérales [online], 2013. 15 February 2013. RS 414.110. [Accessed on 28 March 2013]. Available at: (in French)