UPDATE: IP dispute over McGill students’ million-dollar business plan appears unresolved, but settlement near.

The McGill team has won the Hult Prize this year, despite concerns about the intellectual property origins of the idea their business plan is based on. This photo was taken by a judge at the Hult Prize regional finals competition in San Francisco in December 2012. (Flickr/JD Lasica)

A McGill team from the Desautels Faculty of Management has won the Hult Prize this year, despite concerns about the intellectual origins of the idea their business plan is based on. This photo was taken by a judge at the Hult Prize regional finals competition in San Francisco in December 2012. (Flickr/JD Lasica)

As reported earlier this week, a team of McGill students who had entered an international business plan competition found themselves in an intellectual property dispute with another McGill student.  Following the announcement of the McGill team’s victory, The Abstract sought to determine if the dispute remained unresolved. At the time of the competition, the allegations would have prevented the McGill team from actually receiving the grand prize of one million dollars but would not have interfered with their eligibility. While the team has not yet completed the paperwork to receive their prize, the conflict seems nearly resolved. The comments below were provided by the Desautels Communications and Public Relations office and are published in full.

From McGill’s VP External Relations Olivier Marcel:

“We are enormously proud of the work of McGill’s Hult Prize team and of our other students who are out to change the world for the better. We are aware of the dispute between McGill students related to the regional round of the Hult competition. The dispute was assessed by the office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at McGill, and a resolution proposed, which we hope will result in a settlement of the matter.

The beauty of a research environment in any university is that there are many complementary ideas developed. Much of the time those ideas reinforce each other and can build social good, such as both the Desautels Hult team and Jakub Dzamba are working to do. At times there will be conflict that arises from these interchanges. This most often results from misunderstanding and honest disagreement among people of integrity. When it does, we help facilitate solutions that are mutually satisfactory. That is what McGill has done in this case.

McGill University has verified that the McGill team’s final presentation in the Hult Prize competition, as provided to the university, does not include any reference to the portable cricket farm design described in the provisional patent application filed by McGill University.  McGill supports Mr. Dzamba, the McGill Hult team, and all our students in their endeavors to address world problems.”

From the team:

The matter between our team and Mr. Jakub Dzamba was examined by the office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at McGill and a resolution proposed. We have agreed to, and signed, the resolution put forth by the office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at McGill. Our team of five entered the Hult Prize in late November 2012 along with 10,000 other entries worldwide. At the Boston Regional Finals we presented a multi-component, integrated business plan with solutions based on internal team research and not on concepts provided by Jakub or other parties.

As confirmed by the Hult Prize organization, the illustrations and graphic design work provided by Jakub were not relevant to the judging criteria used in the regional competition. The Hult Prize organization has also confirmed that Jakub’s work was not material to our win at the Boston Regional Final. As of mid-March 2013 we ceased using any of Jakub’s contributions.

We provided the university with the slide-deck of the final presentation for the Hult Prize and they have confirmed it does not include any reference to the portable cricket farm design described in the provisional patent application filed by the university (with Mr. Jakub Dzamba as sole inventor). It is our intention to compensate Jakub for his work as a past consultant and we are happy to give him credit for this contribution (though these contributions were not a factor in our regional win and were not included in our final presentation).

We applaud any initiatives who’s aim it is to alleviate world hunger and help make our world a better place. We have no issue with Jakub filing for a patent on the work he did with us, or otherwise, and wish him well in his future endeavours.”

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