Nevada Regents Debate Over Rights to UNLV Gaming Institute Products
Regent Cedric Crear questions student ownership of intellectual property of casino games and ideas generated at the UNLV International Gaming Institute.
At the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents meeting March 6 in Las Vegas, Thomas Piechota, UNLV Vice President of Research and Economic Development, updated the regents on UNLV’s current and future projects through the Nevada Knowledge Fund, as well as the impact they have had on the institution.
The Knowledge Fund is a $10 million budget allocation intended to spur research, innovation and commercialization in Nevada, according to the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development website.
“One part of me says I understand why the university would not take a part of the intellectual property. I guess we try to help students get their thoughts together in the process of learning,” Crear said. “But the other part, the students are using all of our resources and they are using all of our assistance. We provide them with lab space and all of the tools in order for them to create their intellectual property.”
Crear reinforced his debate in business terms explaining that if a student asked for project funds from Tony Hsieh, prominent Las Vegas businessman, he would take 80 percent and give the student 20 percent.
“That’s a hard, true lesson that happens every single day, that happens to be lost in this process. It seems to me that with every take there has to be some give,” Crear said.
UNLV President Len Jessup defended student ownership of the intellectual property and illustrated the reasoning behind it.
“On our campus, and I’m sure on the others in the system, you’ve got students coming up with a lot of great ideas and we do the best we can to help those ideas see the light of day. Sometimes the university legally can have a portion of that and sometimes not. It just depends on the situation,” Jessup said. “We are in the business of teaching students to think creatively and they own the fruits of that creative thinking, whatever it might be.”
This program helped one student gain national attention after selling a casino game to Konami Gaming Inc., which was also a great benefit to the university, according to Piechota.
“It’s just a really fascinating program where we brought in Dr. Mark Yoseloff, former CEO of SHFL Entertainment Inc., and he created a course for students to come in and generate new games that may potentially go to the casino floor,” Piechota said.
The outcome of the program has been unexpected and tremendous in terms of the number of patents, and we can expect to see more of that, according to Piechota.
So far $125,000 in revenue has come back to the university and Piechota further explains that it will continuously come back because of the licensing agreement and depending on how much the games get used on the casino floor.
“It’s certainly helping industry, helping our students, creating a good experience and potential for startups in the gaming industry,” Piechota said.
In closing statements, Piechota touched on what is next according to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Initiatives will continue for the Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine, Gaming Innovation Center, Hospitality Solutions Institute and Institute for Data Science.
“We want these institutions and centers to continue to build and thrive, continuing to support and invest in them,” he stated.
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