Intellectual property rights
Specifying and managing intellectual property rights is a basic requirement for planning related to competence or the use of research results.
The ownership of the rights determines who can use them. There are a number of ways to protect these rights, which can be combined to provide a varied and strong safeguard against infringements. Protective measures require a systematic approach, however, as applications are not generally free of charge and require the applicant to be proactive. When planning the protection of rights, it is important to adequately consider the methods, use, allocation of resources, and proper scheduling. Tampere University of Technology and the University of Tampere have prepared an invention guide that allows inventors to find out more about the topic. The guide is available for download on the intranet. To get answers to related questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Y-kampus experts on intellectual property rights!
Timing publication right
Publishing results is a key element in academic research and day-to-day activities at a university. However, publishing results creates an obstacle to protecting them with a patent or industrial property rights. It is therefore important to consider whether the results require protection before making the decision to publish them.
Publication requires special consideration if the research has been funded externally by a party such as Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation), the Academy of Finland, the European Union, or companies. The contractual terms regarding this research often grant the financiers rights to use the results in some capacity. To protect these rights, publication opportunities may be restricted to ensure that the results can be patented, for example. It is the responsibility of the researcher publishing the results to ensure that publication does not violate the courses of action and publication methods agreed on in the research contract.
In order to avoid any issues, it is recommended that researchers carefully review the definitions on publication and results outlined in the project contract. If the invention reports are submitted and the results are presented to the financiers in good time, the necessary protective measures can be taken before publishing the results.
Forms of intellectual property rights
Intellectual property rights are divided into two categories, copyrights and industrial property rights. Copyrights protect intellectual creations, such as texts, drawings, photographs, etc. Copyrights are created automatically and do not require a separate application with the Finnish Patent and Registration Office. A separate application is necessary for intellectual property rights (industrial property rights), requiring both money and active effort. Forms of protection provided by industrial property rights:
- Patent (technical solution to a problem)
- Trademark (setting a product or service apart from its competitors, e.g. a logo)
- Utility model (technical solution registered without a prior art search)
- Design right (protection for the design of a concrete item)
In addition to the above, the related intellectual property must also be safeguarded to protect business operations. The trade name and web domain of a company are very close to a trademark, but they are not considered intellectual property rights. Intellectual creations can also be used without publication, in which case they can be regarded as trade secrets.
Ensuring systematic protection
This means that the application for protective rights must be planned from the perspective of utilization. Utilization can be, for example, setting up new business operations, licensing, sales, or use as background material for research. It is key to plan the implementation and utilization of the protective arrangement carefully, in order to take full advantage of the investment. The most important things to determine include identifying what is to be protected and specifying the ownership in an unambiguous manner. In addition, the resourcing of commercial use and protection must be considered before implementing any protective arrangements. Extensive coverage can be achieved by combining various forms of protection.
For more on these forms of protection and their requirements, please refer to the invention guide prepared by TUT and UTA.
Protective practices at a university
University activities center on education and research, which is why the protection of intellectual property rights is focused on activities with a commercial basis. Basically, the university will only take protective measures when a feasible commercialization plan has been prepared for the idea, product, or information in question. The plan must justify the need for protection, the potential for use, and the principles of commercial benefit. Protection costs are primarily covered by the budget for the research or commercialization project or the department. Any protective measures will require approval from the university president.