Protecting your intellectual property - EPSRC


EPSRC’s approach to intellectual assets

It’s important to make arrangements for managing the intellectual assets generated by research projects. We encourage the exploitation of the results of all the research we fund.

What are intellectual assets?

Intellectual assets extend beyond intellectual property rights (such as patents, trademarks, copyright and design rights) which provide legal protection to include know-how, processes and trade secrets – all of which may be developed during a research project.

Our approach to intellectual assets

EPSRC makes no claim to the intellectual assets (IA) arising from the research and training that it supports. Since EPSRC has no research institutes of its own, responsibility for managing intellectual assets arising from the research and training that we support is delegated to the funded organisation.

EPSRC suggests a flexible approach and does not lay down any prescriptive rules about how IA should be identified or managed.

Agreements between partners will need to reflect the circumstances of each case, and should be put in place before projects begin.

We expect universities to manage their IA and to make sure that those generating the IA get appropriate benefit from its exploitation. Unless arrangements have been made in advance, our guideline is that IA resides with its generator.

Arrangements between partners should make sure that there is a suitable return to the university and researcher, that IA ownership returns to the university if it is not exploited by the business partner in an agreed period, and that there should be no significant restrictions on researchers’ future research activities.


Who owns IP arising from an EPSRC-funded studentship?

It depends on the arrangements in place at each university and you should check with the university’s research administration office.

Unless alternative arrangements are agreed between the university, the student and any collaborator, intellectual property rights will belong to the student who generates them.

Limits to our support and liability

Beyond the basic information in these webpages and PDF about intellectual property we are not able to offer detailed advice.

We will not get involved in any detailed negotiations, nor accept any financial or other consequences arising from IA issues relating to EPSRC-funded research.

Last updated: 17 August 2021

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