Are “freedom to operate” searches compulsory in Horizon 2020?

In Horizon 2020, generally speaking, there is no obligation to carry out freedom to operate searches. However, performing this type of search is usually good practice, as it will enable you to identify infringement risks linked to the exploitation of the project results. Freedom to operate searches are a good way of ensuring that third parties’ rights will not get in the way of exploitation – this information can be crucial at the proposal stage.

Will it be possible to release our Horizon 2020 project results (software) under an open source licence?

The Horizon 2020 general model grant agreement does not contain any general rules with regard to the use of open source licensing in Horizon 2020. In general terms, licensing project results is allowed, provided that it does not get in the way of the grant of access rights. This means that the exclusive licensing of project results should be avoided if it prevents access rights from being granted over the same results.

Is there a requirement to disseminate our results if we intend to protect them as trade secrets?


In Horizon 2020, disseminating project results is a general obligation imposed upon project beneficiaries. However, no dissemination can take place until a decision has been made regarding the protection of project results. In other words, dissemination can only occur once the results have been protected, and insofar as it is compatible with this means of protection.

Does the Open Access requirement mean that I will have no IPR over the scientific publications I wrote?

No. In Horizon 2020, Open Access can be defined as the online access to scientific publications, at no charge to the end-user. Open Access therefore only aims at making your work as widely accessible to the public as possible – it does not aim at putting your publications in the public domain, nor to allow the public to reproduce or redistribute a work without its owner’s consent. 

We have created a website to present our Horizon 2020 project. We would like to include a copyright notice on the homepage. How should we formulate this notice?

As long as your website meets the requirements for copyright protection (in particular a requirement of originality), copyright will arise automatically. Therefore, although it is good practice to include a copyright notice on your webpage, the existence of copyright will not depend on this notice.

We have created a website to present our Horizon 2020 project. How can this website be protected?

In the EU, websites are works which are usually protected by copyright, provided that they are the result of the creativity of their author(s), that is, that they are original. Copyright protection arises automatically upon the creation of the work, and grants its owner several exclusive rights such as the rights to copy, to distribute, and to communicate the work to the public.