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Intellectual Property Policies

ERICs are at the core of research, education and innovation. They play a vital role in the advancement of knowledge and technology ­– and their exploitation. This is why Intellectual Property policies should be drafted as early on as possible in the lifecycle of an ERIC.

Intellectual property policies are required by the ERIC Regulation. Intellectual property and related rights should be addressed as early as possible, as part of the management of an ERIC based on its business model.

In general terms, intellectual property can be defined as “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.” (WIPO)

In the context of ERICs, intellectual property includes rights relating to:

  • literary, artistic and scientific works
  • performances of performing artists, phonograms, and broadcasts
  • inventions in all fields of human endeavor
  • scientific discoveries
  • industrial designs
  • trademarks, service marks, and commercial names and designations
  • protection against unfair competition
  • all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.

Any Intellectual Property policies policies created have to comply with national and international laws and agreements.

How to set up an IP policy?

The first step of establishing a solid policy relating to IP is defining the concrete things in your ERIC that need to be protected:

  • What is the intellectual property created in or by your ERIC?
  • How is it to be protected?
  • What are the ways someone could try and exploit it?

Defining this might be a bit difficult since ERICs don’t have a concrete product in the traditional sense of the word.

Do you create research papers or policy documents? Or does your ERIC provide data and services to researchers and universities? Or do you offer methods, trainings, or workshops? The nature of your IP will affect what kind of IP policy best protects it – different law protects different forms of intellectual property rights.  Refer to sources provided by the EU, such as the Your Guide to IP in Europe.

A particular issue that requires attention concerns ‘legacy’ arrangements and ‘legacy’ background of individual projects that is used by the ERIC, as well as the provisions for Intellectual Property Rights in the Hosting Institution Agreements between ERICs, and for the most part, Universities.

ERICs play a vital role in the advancement of knowledge and technology ­– and possibly their exploitation.

Best practices for protecting IP

ERICs are specific in their needs, goals, and operation models, which is why there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to creating a policy relating to the different forms of IP.

Some ERICs have developed dedicated, separate policies, whereas others have included details of how IPR is to be treated within a wider policy. Some ERIC’s RoP (Rules of Procedure) include statements on how IPR will be addressed.

There are, however, some general best practices that can be recommended:

Create general policies. All ERICs should have general policies providing for identity signs (such as logos), copyright, data, and technology. Drafting your policy is part of a sustainable business strategy. Remember to include a review date within the policy.

Protect your trademark. Protecting your trademark is a matter of identity, protection, and international reputation.

License, if needed. If your ERIC creates software of software management system, consider licensing them/this.

Enforcement of rights: Make a plan in your IPR policy for situations when your rights are breached.

Check for uniformity across agreements. Check user agreements to ensure that they cover standard terms relating to the ownership and use of any intellectual property developed.

Make clear agreements. The agreements between the host institutions and ERICs should have clear provisions for IP and ownership. Make IP a priority and clarify ownership arrangements and transfer of IPR early on.

Example documents from other ERICs

Resources and further reading