Intellectual property

While research data should be made as open as possible, there are instances when it would not be appropriate and thus there is no obligation to share. One such instance is when you are considering your intellectual property (IP) and the possibilities of patenting or licencing.

It is difficult to know when you are completing a grant application if your project will result in something you wish to capture as intellectual property or a patent.  However, here are a few tips to consider at the planning stage that may make the process of considering IP easier later on;

  • You may not be processing special category data but using third party or secondary data. Make sure you know the terms and conditions under which you are using this data. Consider the data sharing agreement you have to sign (if any). If one is not in place, consider using a data sharing agreement yourself. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to go back and get the appropriate consent at a time critical juncture.
  • If you are processing special category data make sure the consent form does not restrict you from using your findings and the anonymised data in a commercial setting.
  • When you are considering sharing your data with third parties in a bid to explore possibilities, put an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) in place at an early stage in discussions. For further advice, please contact Business Gateway.
  • Software is a special category. You must consider the environment in which you have created the code. There may be restrictions on what you can do depending on what platform the software was created. You should also be aware that it may be possible to commercialise or licence an aspect of the software you have made open source.

Patents are complicated. Contact the Intellectual Property Service as soon as you believe a patent needs to be considered.