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“Pre-existing know-how” is cause of much uncertainty under FP6


A quarter of all queries received by IPR-Helpdesk from organisations working in FP6 funded projects relate to pre-existing IP, its exclusion and its usage in projects, according to Dr Britta Seidel-Speer, speaking on behalf of IPR-Helpdesk at this week’s AURIL conference in Birmingham.

Whilst knowledge about IPR issues is increasing amongst SMEs, higher education and research institutions, there are several areas which cause confusion. The most common enquiries to IPR-Helpdesk concern the exclusion of pre-existing know-how from access by other partners taking part in an FP6 project, the protection and use of results gained in the project and other IP-related issues to be settled in consortium agreements.

Seidel-Speer says that pre-existing know-how can be a difficult area, in terms of identifying, defining and specifying it in negotiations and contracts between collaborative parties.

“Twenty five per cent of queries received by our team relate to the ownership of pre-existing know-how and any improvements or refinements that are made to it during the project,” she says. “The underlying EU regulations state that if a party wants to exclude pre-existing know-how from access in an EU-funded RTD-project, then this must be specifically defined before the project begins, or before a new partner joins the project. Of course, this can prove difficult, particularly where it may be that this know-how will be needed at some point during the project.”

Another 15 per cent of queries to IPR-Helpdesk concern access rights: to whom they should be granted and in what form. “This is another key area where clarification is frequently needed,” says Seidel-Speer. “Often the parties involved are unsure about who they need to grant access rights to and for what purpose.”

IPR-Helpdesk also helps organisations with consortium agreements and questions on this subject make up a further 15 per cent of its work.

With an increasing number of queries coming from Eastern European and new Member States, Seidel-Speer believes that demand for IPR-Helpdesk will continue to grow. “We are continually developing our services to meet the needs of those we’re assisting,” says Seidel-Speer. “As well as providing web based information and an on-line helpdesk, we also run training events all over Europe and provide basic legal support. It’s clear that there’s a real, and growing, need for this type of assistance.”

Jo Kelly | alfa
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