Intellectual rights of way

March 24, 1995

Battle with CBI on intellectual rights" states that "universities should have complete initial control of intellectual property rights on collaborative research projects, says the Higher Education Funding Council for England". Later in the same article Philip Wright of the CBI is reported as saying that the HEFCE ruling will work as a barrier against collaboration and that the allocation of IPR should be decided on a case by case basis and criticised the HEFCE mechanism as "prescriptive".

Both statements are at variance with the circular which HEFCE is due to publish next week, a draft of which both contributors had available. The purpose of GR is to reward contracts where the university does not cede IPR exclusively to a single industrial collaborator. However, it is no part of the HEFCE's aim to impose a single model of contract on universities and their industrial collaborators. The circular makes this clear, stating: "The council wishes to reward research which is collaborative, and whose results will be of benefit more widely than to the sponsor. On the other hand, the council does not seek to impose contracts of a specific nature on institutions and the sponsors of their research. An institution and a collaborating partner remain entirely free to negotiate contracts on whatever terms they wish, including contracts in which the institution surrenders ownership of, or gives the sponsor exclusive rights to the intellectual rights. Where a contract is negotiated which cedes IPR to the sponsor, the only implication for council funding is that such a contract will not count as qualifying income for calculating GR". You also quoted David Thomas of Imperial College, saying that HEFCE's policy "was sensible and will encourage mutual respect between industry and universities". He is right. We have highlighted the value of intellectual property and this is something universities will need to take into account in negotiating with industry.

Graeme Davies

Chief executive, HEFCE

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