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The Intellectual Property Office looking for broad input into improved model IP agreements for collaborative research

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) - formerly The Patent Office - is the official government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights in the UK and is an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Following a review of its guide to framing IP agreements for the outcomes of collaborative research, known as the "Lambert toolkit", the IPO is looking to set up a group of IP practioners from Universities, Research Councils, SME’s and larger companies to update the 'toolkit', and is looking for volunteers to take part in this work. 

 

Lambert agreements seen by some large companies as biased towards universities

In December 2003, The Lambert Review on Business-University Collaborations (chaired by Richard Lambert, former editor of the Financial Times and formerly a member of the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England and now Director General of the CBI) recommended that universities and business should work together to produce model collaborative research agreements for voluntary use by industry and universities, and that these agreements should set out a range of approaches to the ownership and exploitation of IP, such as ownership of IP by the university with exclusive or non-exclusive licensing to the business.

In May this year, a review commissioned by IPO, carried out by IP Pragmatics Limited, titled "Collaborative Research between Business and Universities: The Lambert Toolkit 8 Years On" found the toolkit "is valued as a solid foundation for negotiation, a source of clauses that can help resolve negotiation points, and an independent exemplar of a fair and reasonable approach".

Almost 80% of those who are aware of the toolkit felt it simplifies the process of constructing contracts, and provides useful information and precedents, whilst 70% see it as independent and neutral, and just over 60% agreed that it saves both time and costs of negotiation. However, industrial support for the toolkit was found to be lacking, with large companies more likely to view the Lambert agreements as biased towards universities.

The report also recommended an updated toolkit should allow for more flexible IP ownership, exploitation rights to make it more relevant to current collaborative styles which share ownership, expertise, risk and reward.

More than half of those who have used Lambert felt that a model agreement approach "could be usefully extended to other types of collaboration, such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), or government funded research, which is more usually conducted as a procurement exercise and met with considerable frustration by universities."

 

IPO looking for broad input

In light of the recommendations, the IPO is looking for a broad group of practitioners who would be willing to provide advice and input, particularly on sector specific improvement needs, to the practitioner when needed.  

So, if you have practical experience of negotiating deals over IP in university-business collaboration and are willing to help, the IPO want to hear from you. 

To take part, please email the IPO by Friday 1 November 2013, including the following information:

  • an indication of which group you would like to participate in;
  • your contact details; and
  • a brief description of your expertise in negotiating IP deals (200 words maximum).
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