Partners acting together under the implementation of the same project form a consortium. Consortium members conclude amongst themselves an agreement (consortium agreement) that allows them to determine detailed provisions necessary to carry out their project. It shall also include rules regarding the settlement of internal disputes between the consortium members.
A department or university faculty can be a participant in a project if it is considered as a legal entity. Nevertheless, when a department or university faculty (with no legal entity status) participates in a project, the participant will be considered to be the legal entity to which the department or university faculty in question belongs, that is, the private company, university, institution or organization.
In some cases the Grant Agreement foresees that third parties may carry out some work in the project, for example as subcontractors, affiliates or members of a joint research unit. Nevertheless, even in these situations third parties do not become participants.
Foreground means the results, including information, materials and knowledge, generated in a given project, whether or not they can be protected. It includes intellectual property rights (such as rights resulting from copyright protection, related rights, design rights, patent rights, plant variety rights, rights of creators of topographies of semiconductor products), similar forms of protections (e.g. sui generis right for databases) and unprotected know how (e.g. confidential material).
Background is information and knowledge (including inventions, databases, etc.) held by the participants prior to their accession to the Grant Agreement, as well as any intellectual property rights which are needed for carrying out the project or for using foreground.
Knowledge, a basic term of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), means the results, including information, whether or not they can be protected, as well as copyrights or rights pertaining to such information following applications for, or the issue of, patents, designs, plant varieties, supplementary protection certificates or similar forms of protection.
Most of the provisions can be found in Annex II, Part C, Section 1 and 2 of the Grant Agreement. However, for certain types of FP7 projects, more specific IPR provisions may be found in Annex III, such as the ones applicable to research actions for SMEs or for SME associations. In specific cases, "special clauses" may also be included in Article 7 of the core Grant Agreement with rules concerning IP. A list of all “special clauses” is available with the Model Grant Agreement.
The basic regulation of issues related to intellectual property (IP) rights in a project funded under FP7 is established in the Rules for participation and, more specifically, in the Grant Agreement (essentially, Annex II), which participants conclude with the Commission in order to carry out the project. Furthermore, participants may develop this basic regime in internal agreements, particularly in the Consortium Agreement. Note that the latter cannot contradict the Grant Agreement; it can only further detail it and integrate it.
FP7 was adopted by the European Union (EU) with clear objectives, in particular to strengthen industrial competitiveness and to meet the research needs of other EU policies. It is therefore natural that the EU shaped this funding programme with regulations, some concerning IP, aimed at better achieving those goals. Hence, participants should be familiar with the specific IP rules related to the programme in question. It is of particular importance in terms of IP to consider the following documents:
Participants are strongly encouraged to consider and tackle IPR issues as soon as possible during the preparation of their project and to negotiate any relevant questions with the other participants before starting the project. Indeed, IPR issues can affect both the way a project is conducted, and the exploitation of results after the end of a project. Moreover, certain provisions foresee a default regime if no alternative agreement has been reached.