With a consortium of three universities, four European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and two end-user entities, the E-Stocking project was set up in 2012. Funded under the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme aimed at creating better conditions of life for older adults and to strengthen the industrial opportunities in Europe through the use of information and communication technology (ICT), this project’s overall objective is to develop a new generation of smart ICT-enabled compression stocking solutions that surpass the limitations of current methods/products.
The project’s implementation is based on an interactive strategy. A first phase is dedicated to the development of a pre-prototype with basic functionalities. After testing and evaluation of the performance of the pre-prototype, the results will be used to guide a second phase of development, which will deliver the final prototype. The implementation of the project will be based on a user-centred approach. As such, end-users are engaged at all stages of the project development and are invited to work closely with the RTD performers and the company partners to reach a simple, intuitive and appealing final solution that reflects user needs and expectations.
Given that the main expected result of the project would be a prototype jointly developed by all the consortium partners, the partners during the negotiation of the proposal accepted that the most effective solution in this case would be to share the exploitation rights of potential patent applications equally. In fact, the partners expected to apply for patent protection given the state of the art, but accepted that dividing the rights other than equally would not only be very difficult, but also could lead to unwanted quarrels. However, after a positive evaluation of the proposal and during the negotiation of the Consortium Agreement, one of the partners raised some concerns as to the consistency of such a solution with the Grant Agreement’s regulations.
Mr. Frants Christensen, coordinator of the project, therefore contacted the Helpline service of the European IPR Helpdesk seeking information and suggestions on how to deal with this matter. Mr. Christensen explained the situation to the Helpline hoping to find a solution acceptable for all the consortium partners and suitable for AAL projects.
According to Mr. Christensen, “the European IPR Helpdesk assisted the consortium with a formulation concerning intellectual property rights which could satisfy all the consortium partners.” He not only received “a precise answer, but was supported all the way to the final draft of the Consortium Agreement.” “The European IPR Helpdesk’s responses gave the consortium tranquility on the intellectual property-related issues, and when we hopefully reach results that can be patented, we know we can turn to the European IPR Helpdesk for further advice. The help and advice we received from this service has therefore helped to solve a problem for our consortium. As coordinator of the project, I have been extremely pleased with the cooperation with the European IPR Helpdesk and impressed with the sharpness and prompt solution to our problem. I will not hesitate to contact them for support in relation to intellectual property matters for European projects.”
Following the European IPR Helpdesk’s intervention, the consortium partners successfully signed the Consortium Agreement and are currently implementing the project.