General FAQ

What happens if I am sued for some action or served with a subpoena related to the performance of my job?

Please contact the Office of Legal Affairs immediately.  If you are sued or served with a subpoena for actions you took in the scope of your employment, then ordinarily you will be defended by the Georgia Attorney General's office. If any judgment is entered against you for actions undertaken in the scope of your employment, it will be covered by the State of Georgia's self-insurance coverage. For specific details on insurance coverage, you should contact the Georgia Tech Office of Insurance and Claims Management.

What should I do if I am contacted by an outside lawyer concerning Georgia Tech business?

Any time you are contacted by a lawyer from outside of Georgia Tech regarding any Georgia Tech business, you should refer the lawyer to Legal Affairs. We will handle their request.

I have heard that my e-mail may not be confidential, is this true?

This is true. Like written communication, e-mail sent or received in the course of employment at Georgia Tech is generally subject to disclosure under the Georgia Open Records Act.

What intellectual property issues does Legal Affairs review?

Legal Affairs does not routinely review intellectual property provisions in research contracts. We review intellectual property issues only when we are asked to do so by the Office of Industry Engagement.

Who owns the intellectual property that I develop at Georgia Tech?

Intellectual property developed at Georgia Tech is generally owned by the Georgia Tech Research Corporation or Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation under an agreement with the Board of Regents. The Georgia Tech Intellectual Property Policy defines in detail your rights with respect to ownership and royalties.

Why do we prefer to use our form agreements?

They save time because they already contain both those provisions which Georgia Tech requires, and the most common provisions requested by vendors or sponsors.

Does the Office of Legal Affairs provide personal legal advice to Georgia Tech students, faculty and staff?

No.  The Office of Legal Affairs' role is to provide legal services to Georgia Tech and therefore Legal Affairs does not provide legal advice or representation to individual Georgia Tech students, faculty or staff for personal matters.  If you are interested in finding an attorney to represent you in a personal matter, the Georgia Bar may be able to assist you. 

I have received an unannounced visit from an FBI agent (or other state or federal investigator). What do I do?

Politely ask the agent to show his or her credentials and identification.  Write down the name of the agent and copy his or her card or badge and ask why the agent is there.  Ask the agent to wait in an area that does not contain any Georgia Tech confidential or proprietary information or any export controlled information and contact the Office of Legal Affairs at 404-894-4812.  Do not answer any questions asked by the agent until you have spoken with an attorney from our office. 

I am concerned that a Georgia Tech employee may be committing an ethics violation or is involved in an illegal or fraudulent activity. What should I do?

EthicsPoint enables anyone to anonymously report a concern of fraud, waste or abuse at Georgia Tech through a third party.  Any such suspected activity should be immediately reported via the EthicsPoint website or by calling 866-294-5565.  In an emergency, please call the Georgia Tech Police Department at 404-894-2500 or call 911.

What should I do if I am contacted by the media concerning a project I am working on at Georgia Tech or am asked to comment on anything Georgia Tech related:

All media inquiries should be immediately directed to the Office of Communications & Marketing.  The appropriate person in that office will handle the matter.

One of my co-workers is suing Georgia Tech. What should I do?

It is best not to discuss the lawsuit with your co-worker involved in this lawsuit, or any other Georgia Tech employees.  Discussing the lawsuit with the suing co-worker may give an impression of an unfriendly, intimidating or hostile work environment.  Additionally, it may give the impression that the co-worker is being retaliated against because he or she has brought a lawsuit against Georgia Tech.  If a co-worker has approached you and wants to discus a co-worker lawsuit or other employee disciplinary matter, please refrain from discussing the matter and contact Legal Affairs.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is knowledge, creative ideas or human expressions that have commercial value and are protectable under copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret laws.  Intellectual Property matters are handled at Georgia Tech by the Office of Industry Engagement.

Patents protect inventions and improvements to existing inventions.  A patent for an invention is a grant of property rights by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  The patent grant excludes others from making, using or selling the invention in the United States.

Trademarks include any word, name, symbol or device, or any combination used, or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of goods.  In other words, a trademark is a brand name. 

Copyrights are a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.  Copyright covers both published and unpublished works including literary, artistic, and musical works.

Trade Secrets are, generally, information that companies keep secret to give them an advantage over their competitors.

How can I borrow equipment or receive equipment donations?

To borrow equipment from a sponsor or other third party for use on a sponsored research project, you should contact your contracting officer in the Office of Sponsored Programs.  All other equipment loan agreements are handled by the Office of Legal Affairs and should be forwarded to us for review and approval of the legal terms.  Donation agreements should be sent to the Office of Development for handling.  Equipment loaned to Georgia Tech is covered by Georgia Tech's insurance only when the loan is covered by a written agreement.  Equipment that is donated is covered by insurance once title passes to Georgia Tech; however, equipment donations should also be covered by a written agreement.  Contact the Office of Insurance and Claims Management with specific questions regarding insurance coverage for equipment.

Does OLA negotiate Teaming Agreements or Sponsored Research Agreements?

No.  Contracts for sponsored research are handled by the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) and the Office of Industry Engagement (OIE).  Although there may be legal issues under negotiation by OSP in many of these agreements, the Office of Legal Affairs does not routinely become involved in the negotiation process.  Legal Affairs reviews such agreements only if requested to do so by OSP for general legal issues or by the Office of Industry Engagement for intellectual property issues, but such reviews occur on few research contracts.  If you think Legal Affairs might be involved in the review or negotiation of your research contract and you have not heard from us, please give us a call to determine if the contract is in our office.