The IPKat nearly failed to spot the publication of Commission Recommendation of 10 April 2008 on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and Code of Practice for universities and other public research organisations, which is nestling quietly in a corner of the very busy website of the Official Journal of the European Union.
The gist of this document is that the Commission recommends that Member States should
The IPKat wonders whether, if there is money to spend on this project, it might be better spent on (i) hiring more researchers, (ii) looking after them better and (iii) making application forms for research funding more user-friendly. Merpel says, just think how much fun it will be when every public research institution in the European Union operates by the same rules and dances to the same tune, not like the random activities of institutions in the United States, where so many of those inconvenient Nobel Prizes come from.
"1. ensure that all public research organisations define knowledge transfer as a strategic mission;
2. encourage public research organisations to establish and publicise policies and procedures for the management of intellectual property in line with the Code of Practice set out in Annex I [the IPKat says, this is good news for universities that aren't already overpopulated by administrators of one sort or another ...];
3. support the development of knowledge transfer capacity and skills in public research organisations [this appears to assume that the knowledge in question belongs to the institutions; let's hope that the rights of those who create that knowledge are not forgotten], as well as measures to raise the awareness and skills of students — in particular in the area of science and technology — regarding intellectual property, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship;
4. promote the broad dissemination of knowledge created with public funds, by taking steps to encourage open access to research results, while enabling, where appropriate, the related intellectual property to be protected [this is a swings-and-roundabouts scenario -- if you have to yield your own research results to others, you can at least get hold of theirs];
5. cooperate and take steps to improve the coherence of their respective ownership regimes as regards intellectual property rights in such a way as to facilitate cross-border collaborations and knowledge transfer in the field of research and development [this looks like harmonisation by stealth of ownership provisions in patent and copyright law: not necessarily a bad thing at all, but it has repercussions that run far wider than the field of public sector knowledge management and should be debated on a wider level too];
6. use the principles outlined in this Recommendation as a basis for introducing or adapting national guidelines and legislation concerning the management of intellectual property and knowledge transfer by public research organisations,
as well as for concluding agreements concerning research cooperation with third countries, or for any other measures to promote knowledge transfer, or when creating new related policies or funding schemes, while observing State aid rules [the reference to State aid is presumably an allusion to EU competition policy in some way. Can this be spelled out, please?];
7. take steps to ensure the widest possible implementation of the Code of Practice, whether directly or through the rules laid down by national and regional research funding bodies [i.e. legislate directly for all cases or make compliance a condition of receiving research funding];
8. ensure equitable and fair treatment of participants from Member States and third countries in international research projects regarding the ownership of and access
to intellectual property rights, to the mutual benefit of all partners involved [easier said than done, particularly since the view as to what is 'equitable and fair' depends if you're receiving money or paying it out];
9. designate a national contact point, the tasks of which should include the coordination of measures regarding knowledge transfer between public research organisations and the private sector, including tackling transnational issues, in liaison with similar contact points in other Member States [looks like more jobs for the administrators, lads! The IPKat suspects that, while the researchers and knowledge creators will be burning the midnight oil to achieve their results, the people who assume the mantle of Measures Coordinators will be away from their desks by 5.30pm and off to the pub for a refreshing drink];
10. examine and make use of the best practices set out in Annex II, taking into account the national context;
11. inform the Commission by 15 July 2010 and every two years thereafter of measures taken on the basis of this Recommendation, as well as their impact".