As exploitation and dissemination are part of every Horizon 2020 project, it is vital to take measures to strengthen IPR even during the implementation stage of the project and even after its conclusion.
The entire IP strategy should be defined during the Grant Agreement (GA) and the Consortium Agreement (CA) signature stage, as most rights and obligations have to be in force once the project starts to protect confidential data and results.
In order to avoid conflict between participants, project partners should take measures regarding ownership in addition to such provisions, for instance keeping books of individual laboratory work, or documentary evidence proving to whom certain results belong.
Joint ownership is however the first form of ownership recognised by the GA when results are generated by at least two participants, or if it is not possible to distinguish participants’ respective contributions. For this reason, during the project a separate joint-ownership agreement should be created, with the possibility of establishing a new ownership system once end-results are generated.
The principal specifications of a joint-ownership agreement are as follows:
Concerning the transfer of results, the GA requires a written agreement to be produced in which it is stated that the obligations originally present in the GA are also transferred onto the new owner; as well as an authorisation from the European Commission (EC) in case results are being transferred to a non-Horizon 2020 country.
The protection of the results is vital but not mandatory. The means through which participants can establish this legally protection depends on the nature of the results. The choices include: patent, utility model, industrial design, copyright, trade mark, and confidential information.
Exploitation measures, as determined in the GA, are required up to 4 years after the end of the project. Exploitation can represent further research in another project, developing a product or creating a service. Participants can also licence their results to third parties for indirect exploitation.
H2020 participants have an obligation to disseminate their results. It is up to them to decide which means they believe is the best without harming interests, background and results. Horizon 2020 projects also have to ensure that in case scientific publications are made regarding the results, these must be free of charge and accessible online to any users (the ‘Open Access’ principle).
IPR provisions in both the GA and the CA remain in force after the project’s conclusion. The confidentiality terms are limited to 4 years after the project, but this time limit can be extended.
How to manage IP in Horizon 2020: project implementation and conclusion, IPR Helpdesk Factsheet, June 2014Factsheet IP H2020 project implementation.pdf