Intellectual Property (IP)

is an idea in its expressed form which develops into an invention or innovation of value (including creative and other types of works), which the creator of the IP can then exercise certain Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) over


Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. IPR usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period. However, these rights, are limited in scope, duration and geographical extent. It is important to note that IP is not a stand-alone issue nor is it only about patenting, licensing, trademarking, copyright and commercial. IP is much broader and is applied in a variety of contexts, including science, technology, trade/competition, research, innovation and development


Background IP

is IP generated before the research collaboration


Foreground IP

is IP generated during the research collaboration


Side ground IP

is IP generated during the research collaboration, but not directly connected to the project objectives



is a legal concept that provides the creator of an original literary or artistic work the exclusive rights to its use and distribution through copyright


A Patent

is a set of exclusive rights granted to an inventor for a limited time in exchange for disclosure of the invention. It must meet certain criteria such as novelty and inclusion of an ‘inventive step’


A Trademark

is a recognisable sign that is used as a marketing tool for consumers to distinguish one kind of goods or service from another


What are the broad categories of Intellectual Property Rights

• Industrial Property
• Copyright
• Patent
• Trademark
• Trade secrets
• Designs...


What are the common issues that arise in research contracts

Research partners should carefully read the provisions in the research contract concerning -
• Ownership of the IP
• Access and use of the IP
• Rights and responsibilities attached to the IP
• Mechanisms to manage and/or negotiate disputes


IPRs allow the inventor

to exercise control over their creations, and to derive value from it. IP protection is intended to stimulate the creativity of the human mind for the benefit of all by ensuring that the advantages derived from exploiting a creation benefit the creator. IPRs also provide for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions.


When you have created

something that is unique and economically valuable and you want to prevent unsolicited copying of your ideas. IP reduces the chances of your products and/or services being replicated and passed off as those of a rival trader, and can open new opportunities.


To protect the economic

and moral right of the creator by granting them a time related right to use and control their IP. The legal protection of new creations encourages the commitment of additional resources for further innovation. The promotion and protection of intellectual property spurs economic growth, creates new jobs and industries, and enhances the quality and enjoyment of life. An efficient and equitable intellectual property system can help all countries to realize intellectual property’s potential as a catalyst for economic development and social and cultural well-being. The intellectual property system helps strike a balance between the interests of innovators and the public interest, providing an environment in which creativity and invention can flourish, for the benefit of all.


Examples of Clauses

a) Rights of ownership of IP
b) Rights and responsibilities pertaining to the IP
c) Management of the IP


The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (Danforth Center) Experience

“Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (Danforth Center) is a not-for-profit research institute with a global vision to improve the human condition through plant science. This vision is exemplified in the Danforth Center’s logo “Discover, Enlighten, Share and Nourish.” Research at the Danforth Center includes efforts to enhance the nutritional content of plants, improve human health and well being, increase agricultural production for a sustainable food supply, preserve and renew our environment, and build scientific capacity and thereby contribute to economic growth in the developing nations of the world. The Danforth Center is built on the principles of collaboration and sharing. The center attains its goals through collaborations and scientific partnerships and continuously offers opportunities for scientific exchange and training, capacity building, technology transfer, and translational research.”

To begin with… the Danforth Center’s general philosophy regarding intellectual property (IP) and … philosophy on reservation of rights for humanitarian use is …”to expect in return no less than the same values and respect of our intellectual property. Inherent in this philosophy is the innate understanding that the center shall not violate or infringe the IP rights or misuse the materials and rights entrusted to the Danforth Center, even if the actions would involve no illegalities.

The Danforth Center’s policies and objectives regarding intellectual property are consistent with those of the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA), which are to promote the management of intellectual property related to agriculture and to achieve freedom to utilize agricultural innovations for research, commercial use, economic development, specialty crops, and humanitarian purposes. In line with these objectives, the Danforth Center encourages the development of research innovations for use in agriculture while also retaining rights needed to fulfill the mission of research and product development for the broader public benefit. The center seeks to facilitate access to enabling technologies for research and commercial use and/or humanitarian purposes by our scientific collaborators and the international scientific community and work to identify strategies that effectively achieve these objectives.

…The Danforth Center and developing countries…

An integral part of the center’s philosophy relates to the desire to be able to share in the benefits of research and discovery endeavors with developing nations. This includes providing assurances that all parties benefit from the intellectual property developed through the center’s collaborations and scientific partnerships. To ensure that the Danforth Center retains and maintains the rights to use technology developed by Danforth Center researchers or through collaborations, the center includes a section in sponsored-re-search and license agreements that provides for the reservation of rights to use technology developed for the benefit of poor and underserved peoples of the developing nations. Under these provisions, the Danforth Center and our cooperators retain the rights to develop, have developed, produce, have produced, distribute and/or have distributed (in other words commercialize) the products of our basic and applied research and our joint collaborative research and to share this freely with partnering organizations in developing countries.

In each agreement, the detailed terms may be modified to reflect the interests and needs of the parties and to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship. The terms of licensing reflect our interest in maximizing the opportunities to capture and create value from our intellectual pursuits and ensure that the benefits of our scientific research will benefit the broader international community, especially addressing grand challenges in health, nutrition, and the environment in developing countries.

This philosophy is exemplified by the center’s policy not to grant broad worldwide exclusive licenses to its technology that could limit the center’s ability to create the maximum benefit from any intellectual property conceived by the researchers and through collaborative research projects, as well as from any technology developed through these activities. Instead, the center grants only nonexclusive or limited exclusive licenses and, further, restricts the license rights granted to specific and/or limited fields-of-use, specific crops, and specific territories. Thus, the center retains the maximum opportunity to exploit the technology.”

The following agreements from the Danforth Center are available on www.ipHandbook.org:

  • Memoradum of Understanding (MOU) Examples
  • Alliance Letter of Intent (LOI)
  • Enabling Technology License
  • Letter of Non-assert (LONA)
  • Inter-institutional Agreement (IIA)
  • Non-confidential Disclosure

Further details are available at Schubert KR. 2007. Application and Examples of Best Practices in IP Management: The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. In Intellectual Property Management in Health and Agricultural Innovation: A Handbook of Best Practices (eds. A Krattiger, RT Mahoney, L Nelsen, et al.). MIHR: Oxford, U.K., and PIPRA: Davis, U.S.A. Available online at www.ipHandbook.org.


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World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Workshops and Seminars

Links and Organisations

Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS)

International ethical guidelines for biomedical research involving human subjects

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Research Centers

Intellectual property management in health and agricultural innovation

A handbook of best practices


CREST cross-border collaboration

Decision guide

Intellectual property management in health and agricultural innovation

A handbook of best practices

Lambert Toolkit for university-industry collaboration


Intellectual property handbook

Policy, law and use

A brochure on intellectual property rights...

For universities and R&D institutions in African countries

Guidelines on developing intellectual property policy for universities and R&D organizations

The Bonn Guidelines on Access to Genetic Resources...

Bonn Guidelines (2002)

Intellectual Property Rights

Fair Research Contracting Guidance

Strengthening Partnership between States and indigenous

Treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements”

ipHandbook of Best Practises

Case Studies Index