Commission sets out changes to intellectual property rules for integrated projects

January 30, 2002

Brussels, 28 January 2002

A working document on 'Provisions for implementing integrated projects,' published by the European Commission's Research DG on 21 January, sets out measures to make the intellectual property rules for integrated projects under the Sixth Framework programme for research (FP6) simpler and more flexible.

The document sets out changes to the rules regarding the protection, dissemination and use of knowledge under integrated projects, so that the same guidelines apply for all participants. They have also been adapted to aid efficient cooperation and the appropriate use and dissemination of results. Under the simplified rules, participants may also decide amongst themselves the arrangements that suit them best, within the framework of the model contract.

The document states that participants in integrated projects will own the intellectual property of the knowledge resulting from the project, adding that 'where appropriate, the owner of knowledge will provide adequate and effective protection for knowledge that is capable of industrial or commercial application.' It adds that the Commission may adopt protective measures where necessary to protect knowledge in a particular country or where such protection has either not been applied for or has been waived.

The document also sets out provisions for the mandatory use and dissemination of knowledge. It states that participants are free to use any knowledge arising from the project which they own, according to their own wishes and in compliance with any agreement reached by the group involved in the project. The document also states that participants will be given a time limit by the Community for the dissemination of knowledge suitable for this. If the participants fail to do this within the period laid down by the Community, the Commission may take action to disseminate the knowledge itself, bearing in mind the need to safeguard intellectual property rights, confidentiality and the legitimate interests of the participants.

The document also sets out a simplification of access rights so that the same provisions apply to all participants. This represents a break away from the practice adopted under the Fifth Framework programme for research, FP5, where there were different access rights for principal and assistant contractors. In addition, the control of pre-existing know-how by its owners has been improved by making it possible for a participant to exclude pre-existing know-how from the obligation to grant access rights to it to other participants. The control of knowledge resulting from a project by its owners has also been improved - a project participant enjoys access to another participant's knowledge or pre-existing know-how only where these rights are necessary for that participant to use his or her own knowledge to carry out work under the project or to use their own knowledge resulting from the project.

Although obligatory access rights between projects have been suppressed, participants may themselves draw up an agreement to grant additional or more favourable access rights or to specify the requirements applicable to access rights. The Commission may, however, object to the granting of access rights to third parties, particularly if they lie outside a Member or Associated State, if the grant is not in accordance with the interests of the competitiveness of European industry or ethical principles such as those described in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Access rights to knowledge and pre-existing know-how will be granted on a royalty-free basis unless other conditions are agreed before the contract is signed.

To comment on the working document, please contact: E-mail: Leonidas.Karapiperas@cec.eu.int

To view the document, please consult the following web address: http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/nfp/networks-ip.html

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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