IPR protection in Horizon 2020 projects

General considerations

Clarification of the four most common IP protection:

Trademarks. Registered property which in fact can last indefinitely. It needs to be renewed every 20 years. If not, it ends automatically after the said period.

Patents.  The most extensive  IP right.  Patent is an exclusive right issued to the applicant in exchange for making  the invention public. It is originally designed for industrial novelties, but has gradually been expanded to cover other fields.  The patent is restricted to 20 years, 25 in the pharmaceutical industry since testing of drugs often takes  many years. The invention is made public 18 months after the date of application.  It takes about 30 months from application date to issue a patent and the application prosess can cost up to 100 thous. euros.

Design.  Design is another registered right. It concentrates on the design on industrial products. Initially it can cover a period of 5 years or longer. This right has to be renewed regularly up to 25 years – the maximum period of design protection.

Copyright. The only IP right which iscreated  as soon as an intellectual property is created.   That means it comes into existense without registration.  It is also the most long-lived of all protection. It is valid for 70 years after the death of the author.

Project proposal

At the proposal stage relevant IP protection issues should be examined.  Background knowledge, that is the knowledge the partners bring to the project, should be defined and opened up for the partners, where relevant. Confidentiality  issues need to be clarifired and managed, a non-disclossure  agreement (NDA) signed if necessary. As in all projects, a plan for dissemination and exploitation including open access issues shoul be considered.

A state of the art investigation is also necessary. In some cases this can be done by the project partners. In others, this is a complicated task best left to experts.

Grant received, project implemented

In funding negotiations 2  agreements,  namely the Grant Agreement (GA) and Consortiun Agreement (CA)  are prepared. The consortiun agreement is entered between the project partners. It clarifies  the management of knowledge in a project, rights to background knowledge, ownership and transfer of results as well as dissemination. This also includes IP management. Dissemination should be discusssed in relation to confidentiality.  It is important to emphasize that IP protection  with necessary confidentiality is not contadictory to dissemination of the results. It all depends on the right order.

Having the CA ready the Commission and the consortium can negotiate the grant agreement. The grant agreement needs to be constantly reviewed and should have provisions to handle  internal conflicts and disputes.

After the end of project

IP issues at the end of project and beyond neeed to be addressed at this stage. That includes the evaluation and valorisation of intellectual peoperty.  Dissemination of resulets, including open access, needs to be clarified.


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