The Ideas programme will support “frontier research” solely on the basis of scientific excellence. Research may be carried out in any area of science or technology, including engineering, socio-economic sciences and the humanities. In contrast with the Cooperation programme, there is no obligation for cross-border partnerships. Projects are implemented by “individual teams” around a “principal investigator”. The programme is implemented via the new European Research Council (ERC). It is primarily targeted at academics.
Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways help commercial and non-commercial research organisations work together. Partners include universities and companies of all shapes and sizes. Focussing on joint research projects, IAPPs aim to boost skills exchange between the commercial and non-commercial sectors.
To qualify for an IAPP, your proposal must include one or more universities or research centres, and one or more enterprises. The industrial partners must be operating on a commercial basis. An IAPP project proposal must come from partners in at least two different EU Member States or Associate Countries. Partners from Third Countries can also join in, but only if enough EU members or associates are also represented in the partnership.
The specific model Grant Agreement applicable in Marie Curie actions establishes in its Annex II the main IPR rules applicable to beneficiaries. In particular, Part C of this annex lays down provisions on foreground and access rights, while in Part A you can find the relevant provision on confidentiality.
It is also important to consider Annex III, since it defines the basic framework for the relation between the beneficiaries and researchers, as well as the associated partners. Please note that you must use the specific model of Annex III available for your action.
Pursuant to the Grant Agreement, beneficiaries have to make sure that researchers enjoy, on a royalty-free basis, access rights to the background and foreground in order to allow them to develop their work under the project. However, these access rights are granted on a “need” basis, which means that they must be granted only if they are necessary for researchers to be able to carry out their research under the project.
In case there is a restriction that might affect the granting of those access rights, researchers must be informed as soon as possible.
In Marie Curie actions, beneficiaries must sign written agreements with the researchers they appoint under the project. This agreement, which must be in accordance with the provisions of the Grant Agreement, is intended to determine the conditions of implementation of the project, as well as the rights and obligations of both the researcher and the beneficiary under the project. The agreement is, therefore, a complement to the Grant Agreement and, in particular, its Annex III.
In terms of Intellectual Property related issues, the Grant Agreement establishes that this agreement shall specify, in particular, the access to the background, the use of foreground, publicity and confidentiality. Thus, it is common to see in these types of agreements clauses concerning the transfer of ownership of the results generated by researchers to the beneficiary, since under the Grant Agreement the results of the projects shall belong to beneficiaries. Confidentiality clauses are also very common in these agreements, since beneficiaries must make sure that researchers also comply with the same confidentiality obligations imposed to the concerned beneficiary.
Pursuant to the Grant Agreement, beneficiaries are bound by confidentially obligations. Such obligations include, for example, the following commitments:
a) to preserve the confidentiality of any data, documents or other material that is identified as confidential in relation to the execution of the project (“confidential information”) during the project and for a period of five years after its completion or any other period thereafter as established in the Consortium Agreement;
b) where confidential information was communicated orally, to confirm its confidential character in writing within 15 days after disclosure;
c) to use the confidential information only in relation to the execution of the project unless otherwise agreed with the disclosing party.
These obligations are also extended to researchers, since the Grant Agreement clearly establishes that beneficiaries shall ensure that researchers have the same rights and comply with the same obligations as the concerned beneficiary. For this reason, the agreement signed between researchers and the appointing beneficiary generally includes a clause concerning confidentiality.
According to the model Grant Agreement foreground shall be the property of the beneficiary carrying out the work generating that foreground. Furthermore, according to the model Grant Agreement foreground means the results, including information, whether or not they can be protected, which are generated under the project. Such results include rights related to copyright; design copy rights; patent rights; plant variety rights; or similar forms of protection.
The results/Intellectual Property generated by the researcher under the project shall, thus, belong to the beneficiary who is considered to be his employer during the secondment period in the host beneficiary's premises.
It is, furthermore, possible that the researcher employed and dispatched by one beneficiary, together with employees of the host beneficiary, creates jointly some results. In such case, the ownership shall be jointly as well. Beneficiaries in such case may create their own regime on the allocation and the terms of exercising the ownership of foreground or agree on an alternative solution (e.g. a single owner with favourable access rights for the other beneficiary that transferred its ownership share).
It is a good practice to include in the Consortium Agreement or Partnership Agreement a clause containing rules for allocation, terms of exercising and management of ownership of the project results within the secondment period.
In Marie Curie actions, beneficiaries are the owners of the project’s results (unless otherwise agreed). These persons are the entities signing the Grant Agreement with the European Union and therefore entitled to the rights and obligations under this agreement. Thus, researchers do not have ownership of the project’s results, including any intellectual property rights such as a patent.
For this reason, often beneficiaries request the researchers to sign an agreement dealing with the transfer of rights from the researcher to the beneficiary, in order to make sure that the beneficiary complies with its obligations under the Grant Agreement.
When beneficiaries sign the Grant Agreement with the European Union they agree to provide the researcher with access rights, on a royalty-free basis, to the background and to the foreground, if that background or foreground is needed for his/her execution of the research project.
This means that researchers can use, for free, background and foreground if they need to use it with the purpose to carry out their tasks in the project. Hence, access rights of researchers over the project’s foreground are limited to the lifetime of the project.
Nevertheless, the obligations under the Grant Agreement are minimal and consequently additional access rights may be granted to researchers. Yet, those additional access rights would have to be negotiated between the researcher and the beneficiary owning the results.