5 - The management of intellectual property protection

5.0 - Beginning


The management of intellectual property protection is one of the key aspects of the relationship between Companies and Universities. The essential features of this procedure should be: communication concerning inventions; patent applications and confidentiality agreements to protect the knowledge which is generated; licences which permit Companies to use technologies developed by universities, with or without their collaboration; R&D&i contracts; and the creation of technology-based companies (spinoffs and start-ups).

It is very important that both Companies and Universities understand all these concepts clearly and that they know how they should be managed. The rights and obligations of each party should also be clearly defined from the outset.

The protection of intellectual property should ideally be complemented with the Open Innovation System which tends to be the basis of all modern R&D&i models. The fact that it offers greater mobility, permits access to knowledge through the web, allows companies to exchange human resources, aids entrepreneurs, and offers increased capacity for exchange between companies, as well as suppliers and users, are all contributing factors to the emergence of this system. Consequently, the protection of intellectual property must take into consideration a wide variety of internal and external sources which are involved in generating the innovation process.

Problems identified

  • Requires a high level of legal specialisation.
  • SMEs have limited knowledge and experience about establishing agreements with Universities.
  • Difficulty of exploiting commercial patents at a national and international level.
  • Lack of patent exchange between the business and academic sectors.
  • Limited experience in the protection of intellectual property within the Innovation and Open Collaboration system.
  • Low level of internationalisation, in both the academic and business environments.
  • Repetitive approaches to the protection of intellectual property.
  • High cost of patent maintenance.
  • Difficulty of estimating necessary levels of protection during the early stages of research.
  • Excessive interest in commercialising results of research as quickly as possible rather than developing a long-term legal protection strategy.


The main aims of the recommendations outlined below are to offer a comprehensive insight into the various mechanisms for the exploitation of knowledge and collaboration, whist facilitating access to specialised knowledge in this field, developing licensing policies and ensuring financial returns.