“That old paradigm still exists,” she said. “I know there are a lot of labs where the students are still indentured servants.”

For Brown, who is now a 22-year-old graduate student in journalism at Missouri, his app, NearBuy, was more of a professional foot in the door than a financial success.

It was free app for prospective home buyers and apartment hunters, and he had little time for marketing or product development after starting graduate school in the fall. He parlayed the creation into a product development job at Newsy.com, a local online video news service.

But the assurance that he will have the legal rights to any future classroom brainstorms is encouraging, he said.

“It would have been terribly frustrating if the door had closed after we went through,” he said.

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