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Title and Description Date
Trade secrets: An efficient tool for competitiveness

A trade secret is confidential information in the context of business, commerce or trade. Trade secrets often constitute valuable resources to many companies whose assets may, for instance, not be patentable but have a great commercial value and therefore need to be protected.

This fact sheet illustrates the importance of trade secrets for businesses and provides insight into trade secret protection, which could prove beneficial in particular to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).



Intellectual property management at trade fairs

Trade fairs and exhibitions are very important marketing tools for companies, in particular for SMEs. They help to attract new customers, test products, access new markets, raise the image, profile and popularity of a company or product, and enhance competitiveness.

While, trade fairs can facilitate intellectual property (IP) infringements, they can also help IP owners detect such infringements. Therefore, exhibitors must be aware of all the IP issues that can arise in the context of trade fairs and take appropriate measures before, during and after the show.

Learn all about it in this fact sheet.

Fact Sheet: "IP considerations for trade fair organisers" IP considerations for trade fair organisers

Tackling intellectual property (IP) issues in trade fairs and exhibitions is not only a crucial element for exhibitors. It is also highly important for organisers as the risk of IP infringement in a trade fair/exhibition may affect the credibility of the trade show and might discourage companies from participating in these events. Being aware of this, many organisers are now taking initiatives to ease the fight against IP infringements.

This fact sheet offers some possible measures that can be taken by the trade fair organisers to prevent the infringement of IP rights during trade fairs, and introduces real examples from a number of trade fair organisers and associations.

IP Management in European Structural and Investment Funds IP Management in European Structural and Investment Funds

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) are one of the main investment policy tools of the European Union to support economic and social growth within Europe. Research and innovation projects funded under ESI Funds entail the creation and use of intellectual assets, which attribute an indispensable role to intellectual property (IP) in the whole project management process.

Our latest fact sheet on IP Management in European Structural and Investment Funds underlines the importance of IP in ESI Funds and aims to provide guidance on the IP issues that may arise during the project life cycle.

The value of geographical indications for businesses

Some product names have more things to say about themselves than others. They can reflect and evoke qualities and reputation strictly linked to their geographical origin.

Such a special “link” between the quality or reputation of a product and its geographical origin might have a considerable market value and its protection constitutes an important step for producers to gain the related competitive advantage.

Read our brand new fact sheet introducing geographical indications as an invaluable tool to help companies differentiate themselves in the market.

IP Audit: Uncovering the potential of your business

Without any doubt, for today’s businesses one of the very first steps for being successful in the global business arena is to be aware of their intellectual assets. Nevertheless, because of the non-physical nature of these assets, it is sometimes not very easy for companies to identify and utilise them as a tool to reach their objectives.

This time, our brand new fact sheet discusses an invaluable tool to help companies grow in this competitive business world by disclosing their hidden potential: The IP Audit.

Design Searching

Risks of investing in non-original design or filing an application for identical or confusingly similar design can be avoided or at least limited by performing design searching.

The European IPR Helpdesk's new fact sheet focusses on the main characteristics of design searching as a best practice allowing companies and designers to keep up with the latest market trends and look at designs that may impede the possibility to acquire protection or infringe the rights on their design creations.

Technology Licensing-in

Successful industries survive on continuous innovation, bringing to the market new products and services by developing or acquiring cutting-edge technology. The process of acquiring the rights related to a third party’s technology through a licence agreement is indicated as technology licensing-in.

This fact sheet analyses the most relevant issues related to technology licensing-in, giving readers an overview of the preliminary steps and practical suggestions to follow in order to get prepared for future negotiations.

Intellectual property relevance in internationalisation

In order to sustain competitiveness in global market within the new world of international alliances and networks, companies are extending their business activities at international level, now more than ever.

This fact sheet aims to show you how to deal with Intellectual Property (IP) matters in internationalisation process and which main steps should be taken to manage Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), when entering into foreign markets.

The Plan for the Exploitation and Dissemination of Results in Horizon 2020

Exploitation and dissemination are integral part of the European research and innovation funding and certain obligations in this regard arise at the project proposal stage. The Horizon 2020 work programme 2014-2015 explicitly specifies that project proposals shall include a draft Plan for the Exploitation and Dissemination of Results (PEDR). The aim of this fact sheet is to outline the main characteristics and scope of the PEDR and to tackle the issues that participants in Horizon 2020 may encounter when preparing the PEDR.

IP management in Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Intellectual property (IP) management is a very important part of any successful project within the Horizon 2020 framework programme. Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSC) Actions are not an exception and participants should take the time to understand the IP rules and establish an effective and tailored plan for the protection and exploitation of research results and intellectual property (IP) arising within their projects. The aim of this fact sheet is to outline the main IP-related issues that participants in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions should consider in the different stages of their projects.

Intellectual property management in open innovation
During recent decades, the R&D field has witnessed a rise in technological complexity. This entails the presence of a pool of intellectual property (IP) rights within the most advanced products and services. Also considering that the number of patent filings increases steadily, companies therefore have to rely on third party IP rights to innovate.
A natural outcome of this multi-invention background is the need for companies to cooperate with other research and technology development performers (RTDs) in order to produce innovative solutions.
Intellectual property and business plans

A business plan is a strategic document providing details on how a given innovation is going to be commercialised and brought to the market by an existing company or a newly created venture. Since the scope of the business plan is to describe not only the business logic behind the commercialisation plans, but also the assets and resources that will make the business successful, the definition of a strong intellectual property (IP) protection and management policy and the business planning exercise are strongly interconnected.

IP relevance in the SME Instrument

Selected highly innovative, ambitious and passionate small- or medium-sized enterprises (SME) with global ambitions are given the unique opportunity to receive excellent business resources and mentorship as well as substantial funding within the SME Instrument, which is part of the Horizon 2020 programme.

Intellectual property considerations for medical devices

Medical devices have become increasingly important in society given their impact on the health sector and also in the economy.

Defending and enforcing IP

The aim of this fact sheet is to point out that in order to enforce IP rights it is vital that organisations be aware of the intangible assets they own and take steps to protect and properly manage them. In so doing, organisations having IP as an underlying business asset will be less susceptible to IP abuses. Should an IP right infringement occur it is suggested that alternative mechanisms to resolve disputes are explored and that, only when this is not a viable solution, you enforce your rights through legal proceedings.

Intellectual Property considerations for business websites

A growing number of European SMEs are going online, by launching and maintaining business websites, often even providing their clients with the possibility to buy products online. As a central company asset, websites should be protected and well managed. Intellectual property is in this regard crucial, since there will be a number of intellectual property rights which exist in your website.

Intellectual Property in biotechnology

This fact sheet aims at giving a brief overview of the different forms of intellectual property that can be relevant in biotechnology and focuses more specifically on patents, the role of biotechnology in innovation in Europe and how to use patent information for innovation indicators.

Open Access to scientific publications and research data in Horizon 2020: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

All projects receiving Horizon 2020 funding will have the obligation to make sure any peer-reviewed journal article which they publish is openly accessible, free of charge. This fact sheet is written as a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document, in order to answer queries received from Horizon 2020 applicants. This fact sheet should be read in parallel with the “Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020”.

IP management in Horizon 2020: project implementation and conclusion

This final fact sheet of our Horizon 2020 series highlights the steps you need to follow to pave the way for the exploitation and dissemination of the intellectual property generated during the implementation of your project.

How to manage IP in Horizon 2020: grant preparation stage

This fact sheet gives guidance on the central IP issues which consortia need to consider during the grant preparation stage, which are encompassed in two main agreements underpinning the contractual framework of EU-funded projects: the Grant agreement and the Consortium Agreement. The grant preparation stage is extremely important since the main commitments concerning IP are agreed upon in this phase between the consortium and the European Commission, and among consortium partners.

IP Management in Horizon 2020: Proposal Stage

This fact sheets intends to assist applicants in Horizon 2020 with the management of intellectual property in the proposal stage of their project. Even though Horizon 2020 research and innovation activities are implemented through different forms of funding, particularly grants, prizes, procurement and financial instruments, this fact sheets deals solely with grants. This fact sheet is the first of a series of three fact sheets dealing with the management of intellectual property in the different stages of a Horizon 2020 project.

Exploitation channels for public research results

This fact sheet has the aim to present tools, tips and practices for public research organisations (PROs) to convert the knowledge resulting from publicly funded research activities into socio-economic benefits. Through direct commercialisation tools and via public/private partnership the dissemination and transfer of the generated knowledge to the market can be ensured, with the objective of creating products and services to enhance social welfare.

Commercialising Intellectual Property: Franchising

This fact sheet deals with franchising. Franchising has been increasingly used by European companies and individuals as a route for exploitation of intangibles and expansion of their business to other territories and countries. This fact sheet will help understand what franchising is and particularly why it is an attractive business option, both for Franchisor Franchisee. Moreover, information on the legal environment in Europe and a checklist of the main steps to take when establishing a franchising partnership are provided in this document.

IP assets for financial advantages

This fact sheet gives an overview of the different means at the disposal of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and research organisations (ROs) to access finance, in order to obtain liquidity from their intangible. The aim is to show that IP can be used as leverage for attracting investors, as collateral for obtaining credit and loans as well as receivables for securitisations. All of this can derive from banks, equity investors and the public sector.

Automatic Patent Analysis

Experts reckon that much of the technical information contained in patents is not available anywhere else, and that it contains around 80% of the worldwide technical knowledge. However, patent information analysis is not easy: patent documents are abundant, lengthy and are written in very technical language. Thus, reading and analysing patent documents can be complex and time consuming. This is where the use of Automatic Patent Analysis (APA) can help. This fact sheet provides some useful tools and explains how to perform an APA.

Commercialising Intellectual Property: Knowledge Transfer Tools

These different forms of knowledge can be exchanged with other organisations, leading to improved use of knowledge and creation of innovation. In fact, innovation is nowadays mainly based on the interactions between businesses, as well as between them and research organisations. These relationships and transfers of knowledge allow businesses to exploit their own knowledge with the purpose of improving and creating new technologies, products and services, allowing the business to grow. These knowledge transfers are generally ruled by agreements, which can be complex. This is why this fact sheet aims to provide an overview of the common types of agreements through which they are achieved. Moreover, the most important matters to consider in these agreements are highlighted, helping you to protect your intangibles.

Cost-Effective IP Tools

This fact sheet highlights some low-cost strategies that SMEs could adopt to exploit their intangible assets and therefore reap the benefits of the IP system. It is important to note that there is no single best way to manage intangible assets and that the choice of the different tools certainly depends on the business strategy of the enterprise. Most importantly, for a business plan to be successful and fruitful, strategic decisions should be jointly taken with managers, lawyers, employers/creators and intellectual assets consultants.

Commercialising Intellectual Property: Assignment Agreements

This fact sheet deals with the assignment of intellectual property rights. Indeed, it is important to understand “what is an IP assignment” as it can be an effective route for the exploitation of your intellectual property. In this fact sheet you can also find an outline of the main provisions of an assignment agreement as well as a check-list to remind you of the most important steps when negotiating an assignment.

Commercialising Intellectual Property: Internal Product Development

This fact sheet deals with internal product development. Whether you develop software, or are in the fashion industry, create and sell furniture or technology devices, you are developing intangible assets. Indeed, nowadays every business has websites, develops its own brands, even non-technological small businesses. Others, such as many start-ups, only have intangible assets. Developing products internally and commercialising them therefore requires the proper management of the intellectual property created by the business and possibly embedded in the product. The purpose of this fact sheet is to give you a handy checklist of the most common tasks required in the management of intellectual property during the different stages of a product’s development cycle.

Publishing v. patenting

Usually, the two main means to bring technical and scientific knowledge to the public are patent applications and journal publications. With the advent of the internet two alternative means are available: the defensive publications and the open access model. This fact sheet examines the different aspects of these knowledge dissemination tools, also taking into account the different needs and objectives of research organisations/universities (ROs) and small and medium sized enterprises/industry (SMEs).

IPR management in software development

Software, or computer programs, is a complex asset. At the boundary between pure creations of the mind and technical inventions, multiple intellectual property rights (IPR) can protect it. Intellectual property is an essential tool to secure value generated by software. However, the means to create such value can vary considerably depending on the exploitation scheme chosen and the related ecosystem for which the use of software developments are intended. The aim of this fact sheet is therefore to introduce the various IPR that can protect software, the main licensing schemes available and their respective potential business impact.

Intellectual Property Valuation

Licensing and assignments of intellectual property rights have become common in the market, and the use of these types of asset as loan security has grown. This new reality has given rise to the growing importance of valuation of intangibles. Trading an asset requires knowing its value. Several methodologies are commonly used in the market to value these assets. In this new fact sheet, the different methodologies will be explained and examples of scenarios of possible use of these methodologies are given. Different tools have been created by public organisations to assist companies performing valuations. These free tools will also be presented in this document to help you save time and money.

IP joint ownership

Joint ownership often arises in connection with collaborative innovation and is of particular relevance to EU-funded programmes, joint ventures and more generally to any research project involving the This fact sheet aims to highlight the most essential IP issues to be addressed when handling jointly owned assets in contractual arrangements, in order to avoid the joint ownership pitfalls. By ensuring that the ownership of the generated IP, and the related responsibility for its protection and defense, are correctly allocated, collaborative projects have more chance to be efficiently implemented and litigation between partners to be avoided.

Commercialising Intellectual Property: Spin-offs

This fact sheet identifies the key factors to create a well-conceived spin-off company with a main emphasis on the IP-related aspects that can contribute to its success. Spin-off is considered as a common practice in Universities and Research Organisations (ROs), in order for them to exploit and maximise the economic benefits of the knowledge created, as often these organisations lack the required capabilities to market their intangibles.

Commercialising Intellectual Property: Licence Agreements

This booklet is a follow-up to the “Commercialising IP” series, providing an introduction to the forms of commercialisation that can be useful for people involved in exploitation of intangible assets. This particular fact sheet aims to clarify when licence agreements should be used. Moreover, in this document we highlight the key provisions seen in most licensing agreements, as well as the specifics of licensing certain types of intellectual property rights.

Inventorship, Authorship and Ownership

This fact sheet aims to clarify the ownership, inventorship and authorship concepts by explaining the different characteristics and shedding some light on the way they should be dealt with in order for any person involved in the creation of intangibles to properly identify them and avoid encountering serious problems.

Background in FP7 Projects

Participants in FP7 projects are encouraged to deal with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) since the beginning of the preparation of their proposals. As in any collaborative research and development projects, the Intellectual Property (IP) brought by each participant to the project is an important issue to tackle.

Commercialising Intellectual Property: Joint Ventures

The present fact sheet focuses on joint ventures (JV) and will put forward some practical and legal issues, mainly from the perspective of the ownership and exploitation of IP, to be considered at all stages of these projects. It tries to point out that if organisations anticipated and properly managed most of the legal risks, they would be able to maximise the financial gains that such settlements are aimed at.

The plan for the use and dissemination of foreground in FP7

This fact sheet outlines the purpose and scope of the plan for the use and dissemination of foreground (PUDF). Practical hints and best practices will be provided whenever possible, but keep in mind that there are no two similar PUDFs in FP7 - each PUDF must be tailored to each project.

Fact Sheet "Alternative Dispute Resolution" Efficient resolution of disputes in R&D collaborations, licensing and other technology transfer

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms include several procedures that allow parties to resolve their disputes out of court in a private forum, with the assistance of a qualified neutral intermediary of their choice. ADR procedures are offered by different arbitral institutions. The following fact sheet, issued in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center, provides an overview of WIPO ADR mechanisms, principles, advantages and case examples to assist SMEs, universities, research centres, researchers and others in making a considered choice on how to resolve future or existing disputes when drafting contract clauses and submission agreements. 

IP Management in the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme

Intellectual Property (IP) and its proper management are essential for the success of the projects funded through the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and for the exploitation of results created within these projects. Thus, this fact sheet aims to provide the main rules on IP and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) applicable in CIP, which all applicants and beneficiaries should be familiar with. The main issues to be considered during the different stages of the project’s life-cycle are also outlined to allow an overview of the required tasks for an efficient management of IP.

How to search for trade marks

A newly updated fact sheet on trade mark search has been published in collaboration with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). OHIM as the official trade marks and designs office of the European Union registers the Community trade mark (CTM) and registered Community design (RCD). To know more about trade mark searches and how to perform them download this newly updated fact sheet!

IP due diligence: assessing value and risks of intangibles

The knowledge of this intricate topic is fundamental for organizations having the purpose to acquire IP, raising capital and seeking financial assistance. Although IP due diligence is a precondition for any capital investment, it can be helpful for enforcing IP rights and reducing the IP-related costs as well. In a few words, IP due diligence can be considered as an essential process when developing an IP strategy. This fact sheet has the scope of illustrating when, why and how to conduct IP due diligence mainly from an SME perspective, in order to increase its marketability. Nevertheless its content is suitable for investigations carried out by any organisation, such as public and private RTOs (Research and Technology Organisations) and universities.

IP management in FP7 Marie Curie Actions

The scope of this document is to outline the main IP-related issues that participants in Marie Curie Actions should consider in the different stages of their projects. The specific rules of the grant agreement related to IP are explained, as well as the content of other agreements commonly used in Marie Curie Actions. Yet, potential participants in these projects should be aware that Marie Curie Actions follow, with a few exceptions, the main FP7 IP-related rules. Thus, we strongly encourage reading our fact sheets on IP management in FP7 projects before this new one.

How to manage confidential business information

This fact sheet has the aim of pointing out the importance of confidentiality for businesses and give hints on protection management of confidential business information, which could prove beneficial in particular to small and micro entities. Such information can certainly have a great commercial value and significant importance for the company concerned and its uncontrolled disclosure might potentially lead to serious consequences. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular may not be aware of this risk and thus of the importance of keeping this valuable information “confidential”.

How to reap the benefit of standardisation in R&D

This document, developed in collaboration with CEN (the European Committee for Standardization) and CENELEC (the European Committee for Electro-technical Standardization), seeks to improve the mutual awareness and collaboration between standardisation and the research communities. While doing so, this fact sheet focuses on an aspect that is close to the researcher's heart: can they participate in and contribute to standardisation without losing the opportunity to exploit their research outcomes through other channels?

Foreground in FP7 projects

There are many reasons why SMEs, universities, research centres and other entities participate in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The creation of results within R&D projects (i.e. foreground) is certainly one of them, since such results might help these organisations to grow their business, go international or perform further research. The purpose of this fact sheet is to give an overview of the rules concerning foreground in FP7 projects. Potential scenarios and practical hints are also provided to help you in the daily management of your projects.

How to deal with IP-related issues in transnational negotiations

Negotiating intellectual property (IP) transactions is not an easy task and can be extremely demanding. In order to avoid common missteps, there are some considerations that any person negotiating IP assets should bear in mind. This fact sheet aims to focus on some of the key aspects related to IP asset negotiations, mainly at transnational level, where the negotiating parties’ objectives are broader, given the breadth of the marketplace. Although all the aspects tackled in this document are generally considered crucial when negotiating any IP transaction, they should nevertheless pertain to the type of agreement you are dealing with and address the transaction specific issues.

Non-disclosure agreement: a business tool

This fact sheet aims to clarify when and why to use this type of agreement, as well as the meaning of the key provisions commonly used. Examples of non-disclosure agreements are also provided at the end of the fact sheet to assist you in case you are drafting your own contract. If you are an SME, a researcher or work at a University you will also find in this fact sheet several practical hints addressing your own specific problems.

How to deal with IP related clauses within Consortium Agreements

The CA is usually divided into three main parts that respectively include preliminary clauses, central clauses and final clauses. The objective of this fact sheet is to focus on the central part, more specifically on the provisions regarding the management of Intellectual Property (IP). An overview of the relevant IP rules to be included in a CA is thus outlined with the purpose of providing a checklist of the matters to be dealt with by consortia when drafting it.

How to manage IP in FP7 during the negotiations stage

This fact sheet aim is to highlight the IP-related issues consortia need to consider during the negotiations with the European Commission, which are encompassed in two main agreements: the Consortium Agreement and the Grant Agreement.

IP specificities in research for the benefit of SMEs

The "research for the benefit of SMEs" programme has been set up by the European Commission within the Capacities programme under the FP7. The purpose of this support is to help SMEs outsource research and extend their international network. It also aims at increasing their research efforts and better exploiting research results. Accordingly, the Intellectual Property regime slightly differs from the common FP7 rules on IP. The main purpose of the present fact sheet is thus to highlight the IP rules specific to these actions.

IP issues in brokerage events

These events are an easy, cheap and quick way for companies’ representatives to develop business partnership and mainly to commercially exploit their intellectual property assets. Yet, such events may present some risks connected to IP that all participants should be aware of. The document aims at bringing forward some of the fundamental aspects which any company should take into consideration, to avoid possible drawbacks so as to successfully participate in brokerage events.

IP rules applicable to Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme Projects

This fact sheet provides a practical overview of the Intellectual Property (IP) rules applicable in the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme (AAL JP). The main activity under the AAL Joint Programme is the funding of R&D and Innovation projects to contribute to the attainment of the AAL Association’s main goal, which is to improve the quality of life, autonomy, participation in social life, skills and employability of older people. The aim of this fact sheet is to explain where the IP rules may be found and the terminology commonly used within the AAL funding schemes. IPR issues can indeed affect both the way a project is conducted and any exploitation of final results.

How to search for patent information

Conducting patent searches is very useful for several purposes, not only for organizations such as SMEs and Universities, but also for researchers. However, in order to perform good and useful searches, it is essential to understand the structure of patent information, whatever form it can take (full text or bibliographic) as well as where and how to use the search tools available; elements that we also will present in this fact sheet. The aim of this fact sheet is thus to present you this enigmatic tool in a user-friendly fashion.

Intellectual Property rules within the Fusion for Energy contractual framework

F4E is the joint undertaking of Euratom and responsible for providing Europe’s contribution to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. F4E is in charge for the preparation, management, technical and administrative support, and the construction of equipment and installations for the realisation of ITER. The full involvement of industry, including large companies, consortia, European laboratories and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) will be essential for the success of the joint construction of ITER. For this purpose, F4E intends to contract with such entities for the acquisition of goods and/or services through procurement contracts, and for the undertaking of research activities through grant agreements. The aim of the this fact sheet is to provide a comprehensive overview of the specific IP regime applicable to F4E contracts and to tackle the basic IP issues that participants in the programme may encounter when preparing and participating in F4E activities.

How to manage IP in FP7 during and after the project

The purpose of this document is to highlight the steps beneficiaries need to follow to pave the way forward for the exploitation and dissemination of the IP generated during the implementation stage. With the three fact sheets, we provide you with a general overview of the entire FP7 process, from the proposal stage until the end of the project. All these factsheets are strictly interconnected so that a thoroughgoing reading of the three is strongly advisable for a better understanding of the issues at stake.

How to manage IP in FP7 during the proposal stage

This document is the first of a series which aim at providing guidance for SMEs, researchers and any other entity wishing to answer a call for proposal in the FP7. The present fact sheet is followed by a second one on ‘How to manage IP in FP7 during the negotiations stage’, and a third and final fact sheet on ‘How to manage IP in FP7 during and after the project’. All these fact sheets are strictly interconnected so that a thoroughgoing reading of the three is strongly advisable for a better understanding of the issues at stake as well as to having a general overview of the entire FP7 process.

Introduction to IP rules in FP7 Projects

This document provides a practical overview of the Intellectual Property (IP) rules applicable in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Union for research, technological and demonstration activities (2007 – 2013). It further explains where these rules may be found and the terminology commonly used.