Aquafragma: Building up a successful patenting strategy for an EU-funded project

In this new case study, Dion Toumazis & Associates, a consultancy firm of architects and engineers from Cyprus, tells us about its project: Aquafragma. The case study explains how the company got inspired for developing the project and how its IP strategy was shaped with the help of the Enterprise Europe Network and the European IPR Helpdesk. 


Commission’s evaluation on the 7th Framework Programme

The European Commission has published its evaluation for the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), based on the report prepared by an independent group of high level experts, as well as the Commission's response to expert group’s recommendations.

The evaluation found out that the FP7 has greatly improved scientific excellence in Europe and strengthened its competitiveness by enhancing industry's capacity to innovate and by contributing to growth and jobs in Europe.

For more information about the European Commission’s evaluation, please click here.



Independent High Level Expert Group report on FP7

The independent High Level Expert Group (HLEG), appointed by the European Commission, has completed its study on the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and presented the HLEG report to the Commission.

The report includes the achievements and impacts of the full range of actions funded by FP7 between 2007-2013 encompassing participation patterns, dissemination, quality assessment and results of projects as well as project outcomes related to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

According to the study, "1586 IPR were reported in 7288 projects and 81% of them were patent applications". The main theme for IPR was “nanosciences, nonotechnologies, materials and new production technologies” under Cooperation programme of FP7, for which 296 patent applications were filed.

The Commission's formal communication on the conclusions of HLEG report accompanied by its observations is foreseen in early 2016.

To read the full report, please click here.



Efficiently preparing the negotiation of access rights to a patentable invention

BIOCORE a consortium made up of 23 partners pursued an intensive collaborative research, aiming to “conceive and analyse the industrial feasibility of a biorefinery concept that will allow the conversion of cereal by-products (straws etc), forestry residues and short rotation woody crops into a wide spectrum of products.” The project, funded by the 7th Framewok Programme for Research (FP7) ran between March 2010 and February 2014, by which time more than forty research-based publications were added to the academic library.

During the exploitation stage, the stage whereby partners secure their IPR via methods of patent, industrial design, and/or trademark registrations and applications, a dispute between two partners arose regarding a patent application. BIOCORE, therefore, contacted the European IPR-Helpdesk Helpline  to clarify the legal uncertainties at the crux of their disagreement.

The patent application, argued one partner, should be withdrawn on the basis that the invention had been developed using his pre-existing, patented processes without permission and that by filing a patent application for the new process, confidential information would be disclosed. The applications were thus withdrawn.

Knowledge relevant to a collaborative innovation project supplied by the partners to it is known as background. Background knowledge is vital to the creation of the final product of such a collaborative venture, known as foreground. The European IPR-Helpdesk was approached for advice and guidance on the rights and obligations of the parties regarding ownership rights of the respective background and foreground with regard to FP7 projects.  

The IPR Helpdesk drew from the Consortium Agreement that background related to the project was defined by the partners through the use of positive and negative list of assets, and that pre-existing patented invention owned by the partner who opposed the patent applications was indeed available for access rights where it was needed to exploit foreground generated.

A few months later the BIOCORE partners again contacted the Helpline, stating: 

“Following the IPR Helpdesk’s support, the opposed partner has been contacted for discussions.  The situation has been clarified and a new European patent application has been filed. This experience will also help us to better prepare the next projects and Consortium Agreements.”

The project partners are now awaiting the results of the search report of the European Patent Office.  Depending on the results, the opposed partner will be contacted to request access rights to its background and to take further steps related to the commercial exploitation of the project foreground.


Taking steps to the protection of databases

This new case study published by the European IPR Helpdesk addresses database protection in the EU Seventh Framework Programme by pointing out the difference between the protection of database content and structure, which may benefit from copyright and/or database sui generis protection.

Have a look at this interesting case!

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Allocation of shares of jointly developed results

Ownership over the intellectual property arising as a result of the innovation is one of the most critical issues to resolve in the framework of collaborative projects, especially in cases where two or more partners generate results jointly.

This case study sets out the likely actions to be undertaken in such a situation to avoid any drawbacks and for a proper management of a jointly owned research result.

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Copyright management and Creative Commons in FP7

The Creative Commons initiative is not incompatible with copyright and on the contrary is based on the existence of copyright protection, since it allows the work to be licensed to others interested in using the material.

Take a look at this new case study to see how the use of Creative Commons licences can be beneficial for dissemination of project results, without undermining legal protection.

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Facilitating wide dissemination of results

Fed4FIRE is an Integrating Project under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) addressing the work programme topic Future Internet Research and Experimentation. The project is performed by a consortium of 17 partner organisations from 8 countries, mainly public research organisations.

In order to enable experimentally driven research, a number of projects for building a European facility for Future Internet Research and Experimentation (FIRE) have been launched, each project targeting a specific community within the Future Internet ecosystem. Through the federation of these infrastructures, innovative experiments can break the boundaries of these domains and infrastructure developers can use common tools of the federation, allowing them to focus on their core testbed activities. Recent projects have already successfully demonstrated the advantages of federation within a community. The Fed4FIRE project intends to implement the next step in these activities by successfully federating across the community borders and offering openness for future extensions.

With this principle of openness in mind, many of the deliverables of this project are public. These deliverables are therefore intended to be widely disseminated outside the project, namely through download in the project’s website. However, during the implementation of the project some partners showed concerns with this dissemination strategy, since they believed this could harm their copyright in those deliverables, which in their understanding must be protected. Moreover, some partners suggested the use of Creative Commons licensing, but there was some disagreement on this possible solution.

Since the partners could not reach a common understanding on this matter, which could potentially affect the timely implementation of the project, the Coordinator of this project, iMinds, contacted the Helpline of the European IPR Helpdesk. According to iMinds “the answer we received from the Helpline helped a lot in our discussion.

With “direct and concise” information that was “understandable for engineers”, the partners in Fed4FIRE “finally came to a solution”. Having started in October 2012, the Fed4FIRE project is currently in its development phase which is expected to run until September 2015.


European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin Issue (11)

We are pleased to inform you that the eleventh issue of the European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin has been released and is now available on-line.

This issue is thicker than the previous ones as our Bulletin comes to the end of its third year of publication. We thus decided to give space to more topics matching the interests of all our target groups. The publication starts with an article on Open Access (OA) in FP7 and Horizon 2020. A policy officer from DG Research & Innovation explains the importance and potential benefits of OA for the European Research Area, together with the activities of the European Commission to foster the utilisation of this dissemination tool in EU-funded programmes. The following article sticks with the EU framework programmes and offers an overview on intellectual property (IP) in Horizon 2020, with a focus on comparison with FP7.

Realising the benefits from IP requires its conscious and appropriate management. The article on IP valuation outlines the principal methods in practice. A INTA contribution points out in ten FAQ how SMEs can effectively use the Madrid System. Small businesses are again the target of two IP tools, providing information on how to use their intangibles.

Our close collaboration with Enterprise Europe Network has produced two other pieces. One introduces the publication of IPR Guidelines, created for the Network advisers to guide their clients through the IP process from idea generation to commercial revenue. The second one is an interview with one of the European IPR Helpdesk Ambassadors from Turkey, who shares with us his thoughts on the benefits and opportunities that the scheme offers to him and his clients.

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