During the European Research and Innovation (R&I) Days, the first annual policy event of the European Commission, bringing together stakeholders to debate and shape the future research and innovation landscape, a session has been dedicated to Intellectual Property (IP) and licensing. These topics are some of the most burning challenges in the world of researchers and innovators. 

Road sign indicating Intellectual Property

This R&I days' session “IP and licensing: Knowledge sharing for best practice and efficiency” looked into important aspects such as "to publish or to perish" dilemma, exploitation strategies of collaborative R&I projects and how to protect your software through patents. 

Three top IP and licensing experts joined the session and delivered a lecture on a specific topic:

  • Spela Stres, Center for technology transfer and innovation (CTT), Jožef Stefan Institute, Slovenia, discussed the issues of patenting in view of the decision-making process of the "to publish or to perish" dilemma, commonly met by researchers worldwide. For them it may be crucial to know whether patenting is the best way to go or not: being patenting rather expensive, a careful evaluation of the return on investment should be seriously taken in account.Other possibilities of protecting IP are indeed available, such as trademark, copyright, trade secret and others, as well as other types of agreements with the industry such as Non-Disclosure, Development Collaboration Agreement and IP licensing Agreement.To navigate in a such confusing and complex reality, researchers can also seek advice from technology transfer offices (like ASTP), IPR Helpdesk (free of charge service funded by the EC), Enterprise Europe Network, European and National offices and patent attorneys, specialised on consulting on the above-mentioned solutions.
  • Jörg Scherer, co-ordinator of European IP Helpdesk, European Research and Project Office addressed the most common exploitation strategies in a collaborative R&I project environment, with a particular focus on technology licensing. A crucial preliminary point is the difference between the IP (Intellectual Property) and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights), the first dealing with the key assets resulting from the project, the latter with the tools to support commercial exploitation of the same assets. Always on a preliminary note, one of the main issues in collaborative research projects is the ownership of results, which can be been jointly developed by several participants. Therefore, the members of the consortium should have a deal on who should be the owner of the results and who should exploit them. Project results are valuable assets, which can be used and traded, but unlike physical property there are many more ways of extracting value such as a start-up, spin-out, new company but also licensing. Having a clearly defined exploitation strategy is a necessary condition to get closer to the market and convince the investors about the benefits of the technology. There are many services offered by the IP Helpdesk such as trainings, helpline, publications and similar tools which can help researchers to properly establish a successful strategy to protect any Intellectual Property.
  • According to Sheron Shamuilia, Policy officer – Joint Research Centre, Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, selecting the optimal model for licensing software is fundamental in order to drive business, encourage innovation and protect Intellectual Property. The owner of the software has several degrees of freedom to decide on how to license the software. The decision should be taken with the goal of matching the requirements of a specific case with one of the three main software licensing models: proprietary licensing, open source licensing and dual licensing. Furthermore, the idea of setting up an IP strategy should consider the following questions: What do you want to protect? How do you want to protect it? What about exploitation and enforcement?One starting point is to consider combining a cluster of IPRs, with technical protections means if possible and building an IP strategy in function of your business model.

For more information, please see the recorded session, and presentations of the experts.

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