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Encouraging Collaboration by leveling IPR barriers

Submitter: Jaap D. Bregman
Description: The last time that a patent featured the Daily image was 17-06-2009. In the past two years we evaluated our patenting policy that was based on the assumption that licensing of patents could advance research in technology. Our attempts to find licensees made clear that in most cases Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) turn out to be more of a hindrance than of practical benefit in establishing cooperation with commercial as well with not-for-profit-organizations that should be beneficial for both parties.

As a first step we decided to transfer the ASTRON patents that initially were intended to secure our interests of the SKA to the SKA organization at the ISKAF 2010 in The Netherlands.

Another important conclusion was that actual costs for establishing patents are higher than direct financial returns, but indirect spin-off has helped tremendously in fundraising that brought ASTRON at the forefront of technology based science. It also became clear that lawyer style patents do not fit the specific needs of potential licensees, while that style is an important cost driver in getting a patent established.

Consequently our patent filing policy has changed focus on clear cut technical content allowing a do-it-your-self approach in patent applications so that discussions with interested parties can start immediately after filing. This ultimately leads to a patent formulation that suits their commercial needs as well as the scientific needs of ASTRON. This approach stimulates cooperation and still gives us the indirect spin-off of being the-first-to-file, just as for scientific publications, but highlighting the innovativeness of the authors. In publications we use the filed patent application as a proper reference attracting attention of commercially interested parties while SKA applications have ‘freedom to use” since ASTRON is a partner. Our policy thereby already is fully in accordance with the draft IPR policy as submitted to the SSEC/SKA Founding Board.

Congratulations to Jan Geralt bij de Vaate en Johan Pragt that their invention now is also protected against commercial misuse and emphasizing the role ASTRON has as a Research and Technology Developer for large scale scientific instruments!
Copyright: © foto (insert, showing IPR transfer): Jo Bowler (SKA Program Development Office
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