Project results and intellectual property in Horizon 2020

Most Horizon 2020 projects are aimed at generating new knowledge or expanding existing knowledge. This often involves the collaboration of several project partners (beneficiaries). It is therefore essential to regulate the ownership rights of the individual partners and to comply with all provisions applicable to exploitation and dissemination, protection, access rights to and transfer of the project results.

"Manifesto for EU COVID-19 Research" for Horizon 2020 projects

This measure launched by the EU-Commission shall ensure maximum accessibility to project results related to the fight against COVID-19.

The EU-Commission calls upon Beneficiaries to endorse this manifesto by signature. By supporting the manifesto, the organisation commits to:

  • make generated results publicly accessible, without delay;
  • make scientific papers and research data available in open access without delay and following the FAIR principles;
  • if possible, grant for a limited time non-exclusive royalty free licences to this  intellectual property.

According to the EU-Commission, signature does not lead to legal force (see FAQ of the EC).

Detailed information about the manifesto can be also found on the webpage of the EC.

Access rights to background and project results

The project partners (beneficiaries) must specify the background (i.e. data, know-how or information held by the partners before they entered the grant agreement and needed to implement the project or exploit the results) in writing.

The project partners must give each other access  to the agreed background and results needed to implement their own project tasks (these access rights must be granted on a royalty-free  basis) or to exploit their own project results (these access rights must be granted under 'fair and reasonable conditions'). These access rights must also be granted to affiliated entities (under 'fair and reasonable conditions') if such background/project results is/are needed to disseminate the results generated by the affiliated project partners.

Requests for access to project results may be made up to one year after the end of the project.

Purpose Access Rights to Background Access Rights to Results
for project implementation royalty-free, unless agreed otherwise before acceeding to the GA royalty-free
for exploitation of results fair and reasonable conditions fair and reasonable conditions

For more information see:

Intellectual property of project results

In principle, project results belong to the project partner (beneficiary) who generated them.

Project results may however also be generated jointly by several partners. In this case all project partners involved in generating the results have joint ownership if it is not possible to

  • establish the respective contribution of each partner OR
  • separate the results for the purpose of obtaining their protection.

The joint owners must specify the provisions for exercising their joint ownership in writing in a 'Joint Ownership Agreement'. They may also agree on an alternative to joint ownership (e.g. transfer of sole ownership to one of the joint owners).

Unless otherwise agreed, each joint owner may grant non-exclusive licences to third parties, provided that the other joint owners are given:

  • at least 45 days advance notice AND
  • fair and reasonable compensation.

For more information see:

Protection of project results

Each project partner (beneficiary) must adequately protect its results for an appropriate period and with appropriate territorial coverage if:

  • the results can reasonably be expected to be commercially or industrially exploited AND
  • protecting them is possible, reasonable and justified under the circumstances at hand.

In this context, the project partner must consider both its own legitimate interests and those of the other partners.

Any costs incurred in obtaining protection of project results are eligible for funding in accordance with the provisions of Article 6.2.D.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.

For more information see:

Exploitation of project results

Each project partner (beneficiary) must take relevant measures to exploit the project results. This obligation remains in force for the duration of the project and up to four years after the end of the project.

For more information see:

Dissemination of project results

The project partners (beneficiaries) must disclose their project results as soon as possible, unless this adversely affects legitimate interests.

Project partners intending to disseminate project results must give at least 45 days advance notice to the other partners (unless agreed otherwise). This notice must include sufficient information on the results concerned.

The other project partners may object within 30 days of receiving notification (unless agreed otherwise) if they can show that the disclosure would significantly adversely affect their legitimate interests.

For more information see:

Transfer of project results

Each project partner (beneficiary) may transfer ownership of its results.

The project partner must ensure, however, that the new owners also comply with the relevant obligations of the Model Grant Agreement.

Project partners intending to transfer their ownership of project results must give at least 45 days advance notice to project partners holding access rights to these results (unless otherwise agreed). This notification must include sufficient information on the new owners.

These project partners may object within 30 days of receiving notification (unless agreed otherwise) if they can show that the transfer of ownership would adversely affect their access rights.

For more information see:

Contact

Mag. Martin BAUMGARTNER
Mag. Martin BAUMGARTNER
National Contact Point: Legal and financial matters
T 0043577554008
Mag. Tamara-Katharina MITISKA
Mag. Tamara-Katharina MITISKA
Expert: Legal and financial matters
T 0043577554009
Robert WOREL
Assistant
T 0043577554611