Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Europe First and Horizon 2020

Amongst its proposals for Horizon 2020, the EC made no change to the FP7 rule concerning access to IPR for affiliates. The rule allows affiliates to have access to the IPR of other consortium members in an EU funded research project on the same terms as a partner in the project, but only if the affiliates are established in the EU or associated countries.

For many multi-national companies this is incompatible with their normal practices for exploiting their IPR. Their manufacturing is located where it is most economic, and sometimes this is outside Europe, necessitating a corresponding transfer of IPR. The grant agreement rule obliged them to negotiate additional terms in their project consortium agreement to cover this situation, causing long discussions with other consortium members and occasionally disagreements.

The EC proposal reflects the “Europe First” policy advocated by its High Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies, which reported last year. The group suggested that EU rules should favour “Europe First” exploitation of the results of EU funded research projects, paralleling the situation in the USA under the Bayh-Dole Act, which favours commercialisation in the USA of its publically funded inventions. The High Level Group specifically proposed this limit on affiliate access.

Interestingly, the group also proposed that public laboratories should only be allowed to license their results of EU funded research within the EU. However no such restriction is proposed for Horizon 2020, except where exclusive licences are envisaged.

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