What is the content to be considered in a joint ownership agreement?

Participants in the collaborative research projects are usually free to decide on the research results ownership regime. Sole ownership is an option when one participant generates a project result. Alternatively, joint ownership may occur when participants work together upon the results and the impact therein may not be clearly determined. In such cases participants should agree on the terms of the joint ownership, preferably before the project starts and in a separate agreement, which shall cover at least issues outlined below:

Is it possible to foresee that certain foreground, although being the result of the common work of several beneficiaries, is solely owned and exclusively exploited by one of them?

In FP7 there is a general rule establishing that the foreground generated jointly by the participants will be jointly owned. This is stated both in the Rules for Participation (RfP) and in the Grant Agreement (GA). In case of joint ownership, the joint owners shall establish an agreement regarding the allocation and terms of exercise of that joint ownership. Joint owners may do it by incorporating appropriate provisions in their CA regarding joint ownership or entering into an additional joint ownership agreement.

Can I transfer the ownership of the foreground that I own without informing the European Commission?

There is no obligation to notify the European Commission before an intended transfer of foreground’s ownership takes place. However, in some projects a special clause may be introduced in article 7 of the Grant Agreement in order to establish the obligation of such a notification when the owner of the foreground intends to transfer it to a third party established in a non-associated country.

When do I have to inform other participants of the transfer of ownership of the foreground I own?

Before the envisaged transfer takes place, you have to inform the other participants about your intention to transfer the ownership of the foreground you own. This communication must also include sufficient information concerning the identity of the assignee to allow the other participants to exercise their access rights directly to the new owner of the foreground. All this information is communicated to the other participants at least 45 days before the transfer of ownership.

Can I transfer the ownership of the foreground that I own?

The owner of foreground may transfer it to any third party, subject to the following obligations:

(i) that it passes on to the assignee (i.e. new owner) its obligations concerning dissemination, use and access rights over that foreground;

(ii) that it ensures that the assignee is under the obligation to also pass on to any subsequent assignee the above mentioned obligations;

Is the transfer of ownership of foreground allowed?

Transfers of ownership of foreground are allowed, although the obligations regarding that foreground must be passed on to the transferee. In principle, as long as the participant concerned is required to grant access rights, notification must be given to the other participants, which may object within a specified period. However, they may agree in advance that no prior notification is necessary with regard to a specifically identified third party.

What does 'joint ownership' mean?

Where several participants have jointly carried out work generating foreground and where their respective share of the work cannot be ascertained, they shall have joint ownership of such foreground.

Joint owners must agree among themselves on the allocation and the terms of exercising the ownership of the foreground in accordance with the terms of the Grant Agreement. In the absence of such an agreement (or pending its conclusion), a default joint ownership regime generally applies.

Who owns Foreground in FP7 projects?

Foreground resulting from a project is owned by the participant generating it. For further details, applicants should read the General Conditions of the Grant Agreement and related documents. When Foreground is generated jointly (i.e. where the separate parts of some result cannot be attributed to different participants), it will be jointly owned, unless the participants concerned agree on a different solution.