12 Nov 2012

IP laws are OK, but reforms needed for public-private research collaborations, says ACIP

by Mary Still

Collaborations between business, universities and other publicly-funded research organisations are an important driver of innovation, and Australia's IP laws generally support them, but confusion and lack of certainty about commercial arrangements are getting in the way. That's the finding of the latest ACIP report, Collaborations between the Public and Private Sectors: the Role of Intellectual Property.

ACIP has made six recommendations dealing with the framework and policies in which these collaborations are negotiated and conducted, which have been referred to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education:

  • Develop mechanisms to increase the motivation of publicly-funded research organisations (PFROs), especially universities and medical research institutes (at an institutional level) and PFRO researchers (at an individual level), to engage in collaborations with industry.
  • Encourage the development and promotion of educational resources to assist PFROs, industry and researchers to form and conduct collaborations.
  • Improve the ability of small to medium enterprises and PFROs to form and conduct collaborations with one another.
  • In order to improve their collaborations with industry, PFROs need to increase their project management skills and capability.
  • Request that the Coordination Committee on Innovation (CCI) promote and encourage the use of flexible terms and conditions in Australian Government grants and research contracts, including those specifically related to background and project IP licences, warranties, indemnities and moral rights.
  • Ensure that the National Principles for Intellectual Property Management for Publicly Funded Research (currently being reviewed by CCI):
    • cover all publicly funded research conducted by PFROs
    • encourage PFROs to introduce continual improvement to, and implementation of, internal policies and procedures for IP management.

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