Cultivating Innovation: Farmtopia Workshop on Intellectual Property

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On January 31, 2024, Farmtopia, a project supported by the European Commission, conducted an Intellectual Property (IP) workshop for its consortium members. The event, hosted by Dušan Pevac from Foodscale Hub delved into Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) nuances, as well. It shed light on crucial aspects such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other pertinent topics.

The session provided valuable insights into safeguarding innovative ideas within the project, fostering a deeper understanding of the significance of Intellectual Property (IP) in the context of Farmtopia’s groundbreaking work.

What are Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Rights (IP & IPR)?

Intellectual Property encompasses the products of human creativity developed by individuals and organisations, necessitating protection. These intangible assets, ranging from inventions and software codes to designs, symbols, databases, and creative works like music, videos, and books, constitute a valuable and tradable aspect of innovation.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) encompass the array of rights tied to intangible assets owned by individuals or entities, shielding them from unauthorised usage without explicit consent. Examples of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) span a diverse range and include patents, copyrights, industrial designs, database rights, trademarks, utility models, and confidential information, among others. Each category plays a crucial role in safeguarding the unique creations and innovations of individuals and organisations.

To maximise the financial advantages derived from intellectual property assets, businesses should adopt preemptive strategies to safeguard these assets effectively.

Consortium members were informed about IP Protection measures for different properties. For example, inventions are protected by Patents or utility models. On the other hand, innovative designs, which are ornamental or aesthetical aspects of a product are protected by Industrial design, etc.

Intellectual Property

When speaking about principles, the workshop examined crucial details to keep in mind, such as the fact that IP rights are only applicable in the country where IPR was granted. When IP is exercised in a specific country, it has to be in line with national laws and regulations. The company that has IPR also has a monopoly over its creation. IPR is not unlimited, it has duration. The duration will correspond to the type of IPR it’s chosen. For example, Industrial Designs stand for 25 years after the registration. A trade secret can be protected for an unlimited period, unless it is discovered or legally acquired by others and disclosed to the public.

The workshop also thoroughly explored various types of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): 

  • Patents are used to protect technological innovations. It is essential that patent documents are published so that all technical knowledge is available to the public. The duration of patents is 20 years with no extensions and it has to be annually paid every year.

  • Utility Models protect minor inventions or minor improvements of existing products. They protect inventions that consist of changing the configuration, structure, or constitution of an object to offer an advantage in its use or manufacturing.

  • Industrial design grants protection to the ornamental or aesthetic features of a product. The right concerns merely the appearance of a product (for example its shape, line, colours, etc.), not the product itself.

  • A trademark (™) is a sign or a combination of signs used in trade to identify and distinguish the goods or services of one company from those of another. A trademark owner is granted exclusive rights to: 1) use the mark to the goods and services concerning which it is registered and 2) prevent others from using a substantially identical or deceptively similar mark to identical or similar goods or services.

  • Copyright protects literary and artistic works, such as novels, music and paintings, architectural works, etc., but also software and databases. Copyright protection arises automatically upon the creation of the work, provided that it is original (no formal registration needed).

  • Relation rights are related to the protection of works of authorship under copyright. Their purpose is to protect the legal interests of certain persons and legal entities who contribute to making works available to the public (i.e., performing artists, broadcasters, etc.)

  • Confidential Business Information is seen as “soft IPs”.The term „Soft IP“ can be used to describe the intellectual assets that are protected through IPRs, but have an important business value. Usually, this refers to know-how or trade secrets. 

Navigating IP in EU-Funded Projects: Horizon Europe

The conversation then shifted to Intellectual Property in Horizon Europe, emphasising the need for clear strategies in project proposals. Protecting research results through IP is pivotal for attracting investments and avoiding conflicts within consortiums.

Key terms, including background, foreground, access rights, exploitation, and dissemination, were explored to provide a comprehensive understanding of IP management in the context of EU-funded projects. The backdrop, outcomes, and various rights associated with project participation were dissected to empower organisations in maximising the potential of their intellectual assets.

Intellectual Property in Horizon Europe Projects

Background: The IP assets that each partner is bringing to the project: Inventions, databases, know–how, secret knowledge, methods, etc. Access rights on background – partners must give each other access to the background needed to implement their own tasks and exploit their own results

There is no obligation to give access if there are restrictions or limits (legal or otherwise) and the partner has informed other partners.

Foreground: These are the outcomes developed within the project, including inventions, databases, know-how etc. Establishing ownership of the foreground early on is crucial to preempting potential conflicts. Ownership of results can be either singular or joint, emphasising the importance of clarity in the collaborative journey.

Towards the conclusion, there was mention of crafting an IP catalogue for Farmtopia, an EU Horizon Europe project. The Exploitation and IP catalogue serves as a comprehensive database housing all potential project outcomes poised for exploitation post-project completion. It is designed to encompass a spectrum of results, including tangible and intangible elements such as knowledge or information, spanning both commercial and non-commercial realms. The catalogue aims to embrace diverse potential applications—scientific, societal, and economic—while succinctly outlining partners’ strategies and future intentions. This catalogue lays the groundwork for developing both the Exploitation Strategy and the IP Strategy.

To stay in the loop with our innovative mission, check in regularly with our Farmtopia Newsroom page or visit our Farmtopia LinkedIn page.

Democratizing Digital Farming for All – FARMTOPIA’S PATH TO EMPOWERING SMALL FARMS WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES

Project Coordination:

Mr Dionisis Solomos

NEUROPUBLIC AE PLIROFORIKIS
& EPIKOINONION

Methonis 6 Kai
Spiliotopoulou 18545,
PEIRAIAS, Greece

d_solomos@neuropublic.gr

Project Communication:

Dušan Pevac

Foodscale Hub
foodscalehub.com

Narodnog fronta 73,
Novi Sad 21000, Serbia

dusan@foodscalehub.com

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