Patents are an important means of exclusively protecting knowledge and therefore acquiring a technological advantage over competitive market parties. NWO believes it has a duty to identify results from its research that are worth patenting.
NWO is in favour of transferring applicable knowledge as quickly as possible (against a normal market remuneration) to potential users and NWO can provide support in finding possible users. The users can then request the patent themselves. If this market party is not found, NWO cann support in requesting a patent from one of more universities involved in the research. But NWO is not seeking to build up its own patent portfolio.
NWO encourages alertness for patent possibilities from research by means of periodically screening for knowledge potential and through the establishment of a bonus scheme for inventors.
NWO-I and patents
One of the objectives of NWO-I, the Institutes Organisation of NWO, is to encourage the use of research results by third parties. Applying for a patent is one way to realise this objective. Other ways are publications, congresses, partnerships and other working agreements. Therefore applying for a patent is not a goal in itself.
A big part of the research results can be patented. However, applying for a patent is only worthwhile if somebody can actually exploit the patent. The patent must also have commercial value. This means that the entrepreneur can use the patent to exclude competitors from a certain market segment. NWO-I prefers not to apply for a patent until there is a seriously interested party.
Further information about knowledge commercialisation (for this NWO-I uses the policy document that was originally written by FOM ) can be read in the PDF 'Guiding principles knowledge commercialisation policy NWO-I'. The document can be downloaded on this page.
Patents and claims to patents that emerge from projects funded by NWO-I are the property of NWO-I. This does not apply if other agreements have been made. Within partnerships, the parties make prior agreements about the intellectual property rights. Without the prior permission of NWO-I, neither you nor your institution can hold any negotiations and/or conclude agreements with third parties, such as businesses, concerning knowledge that you have generated within a project funded by NWO-I.
Costs and benefits
Applying for (and maintaining) a patent is expensive. The cost for acquiring a patent ranges from 5,000 to 50,000 euros. This depends on the number of countries in which a patent is applied for.
Only a few percent of all patents applied for prove to be commercially successful in practice. NWO-I's basic position is that the revenues that emerge from knowledge commercialisation are made available to the research group from which the patent emerged. NWO-I deducts the costs and a possible remuneration for the inventor from these revenues. The revenues are intended for further research in the broadest sense within the group.
The income for NWO-I depends on the conditions under which the patent/research result is made available to the company.
Applying for a patent
Be aware of the possibility to apply for a patent. If you have made a discovery, then identify companies that could be interested in exploiting the patent. Next, you should immediately contact your contact person at NWO-I to arrange the rest of the procedure. Without the permission of NWO-I neither you nor your institution can hold any negotiations and/or conclude agreements with third parties, such as businesses, about the use of knowledge.
NWO-I employees and patents
For NWO-I employees, the ownership of a patent or patent rights and possible remunerations are arranged in Article 1.9 ("Intellectual property rights") of the Collective Labour Agreement Research Institutions and in Article 6 of IR-1 General provisions and legal position.