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    Polish Ministry Plans IP Reform – To Shift Rights From Universities To Researchers

    Published on 22 October 2013 @ 1:20 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    Poland’s Minister of Science and Higher Education Barbara Kudrycka has announced plans to modify Poland’s intellectual property law by providing scientists with property rights to the results of their research. The ministry aims to boost innovation among Polish researchers by safeguarding that inventors receive the financial benefits generated by intellectual property rights to their inventions. Currently, the property rights are allocated to the universities which employ the scientists.

    In an interview the minister gave to local news agency PAP [in Polish], Kudrycka said that the current legal framework fails to adequately reward inventors for their achievements in research. This, the Polish minister said, has negative consequences for Poland’s innovativeness.

    “Currently, we have a certain dualism here. The copyright belongs to the scientist, but property rights belong to the institution which employs the scientist, for instance a university,” Kudrycka said [translation]. “In many countries, the [system] which is applied in Poland is also applied, but there are also countries which have a different [system].”

    The latest proposal is part of the ministry’s wider strategy of fostering stronger ties between the country’s academic and business circles. On 25 June, addressing the Fourth Congress of Innovative Economy in Warsaw, Kudrycka spoke of the positive impact the designed modification of intellectual property rights is expected to have on Poland’s innovativeness.

    “We want … to enfranchise scientists and give them the property rights to their inventions,” Kudrycka said [in Polish]. “This will serve as an impulse to commercialise the developed technological solutions. We also want business to define the fields of research which are the most vital from its point of view.”

    Professor Wiesław Banyś, rector of the University of Silesia in Katowice and head of the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (KRASP), told PAP [in Polish] that, under the plan, the modified bill will earmark between 10 percent and 25 percent of the revenues generated by the inventions for the inventors’ universities and research institutions. The remaining funds, representing between 75 percent and 90 percent of the generated profits, will be earmarked for inventors.

    “Without such motivation we will not foster entrepreneurship among scientists,” Kudrycka said [in Polish].

    Unclear IP Regulations

    Meanwhile, the importance of defining the scope of profits that scientists can expect to receive from their commercialised inventions is also emphasised by other stakeholders. According to a report [in Polish] prepared for Poland’s National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) by consultancy firm PwC, the lack of clear and transparent intellectual property regulations is one of the key factors hampering the development of groundbreaking research in Poland.

    “It seems that the lack of clear rules regarding … providing inventors with an actual, significant share in profits resulting from commercialisation is of key importance in this field,” the report said [in Polish].

    In July 2013, the science ministry announced the launch of public consultations on the draft modification of Poland’s higher education bill. Among a range of other issues, the ministry said [in Polish] in a statement that it is aiming to enable an “enfranchisement of scientists” at local universities and higher education institutions. The rights are to be extended to both academicians and students who are involved in research activities.

    “Scientists will be the holders of property rights to the inventions and other effects of their research and scientific projects,” the ministry said in the statement [in Polish]. “The proposed changes are introduced with the aim of encouraging scientists to seek commercial application of the results of their scientific research through providing them with direct financial benefits [of such application].”

    The public consultation of the draft modified bill with some of the key stakeholders precedes its finalisation by the ministry and its subsequent submission to the Polish Parliament. The stakeholders include the National Centre for Research and Development, the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland, the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Foundation for Polish Science.

    Meanwhile, the regulatory impact analysis of the bill released by the ministry highlights [in Polish] that local businesses are failing to implement the results of research by local scientists. This entails the “low innovativeness of Polish companies,” the RIA document states.

    Another issue pointed out by the ministry’s analysis is the role Polish universities and, in particular, their centres of technology transfer play in liaising between scientists and business. The centres’ function of ensuring that the scientists’ research is commercialised by companies is crucial for the success of technology transfer, according to the RIA document.

    “The [modified bill] will also allow to increase the effectiveness of services related to the process of … commercialisation, as scientists will be free to choose entities, for instance centres of technology transfer and innovation brokers, which will guarantee [them] high-quality services,” the RIA document said [in Polish]. “Currently, with property rights owned by universities/institutes, the universities’ centres of technology transfer have a … monopoly [on commercialising the scientists’ inventions] which does not foster innovation.”

    Shifting Risk to Scientists

    With the ministry’s project currently debated in Poland, some representatives of the country’s academic circles are criticising the solutions it proposes. One of the arguments raised by the critics is that awarding extended intellectual property rights to researchers at the expense of universities and other institutions is likely to impose additional financial burdens on scientists.

    “Contrary to the intentions of the [ministry], there is reason for concern that the proposed modification will shift the entire risk and cost of commercialising [the results of research] on its author, whom the university will be able to support only in a limited way,” the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland said in a statement [in Polish]. “[This] will discourage inventors from undertaking any actions related to commercialisation.”

    Under the current system, the universities are covering the initial costs related to commercialising the results of research, which allows the scientists to focus on their work without risking their own funds, the statement said [in Polish].

    “The proposed reform of intellectual property rights protection … will not bring the expected results in the field of science. It will not increase the level of innovativeness of neither the Polish science, nor the Polish economy,” the KRASP said.

     

    Jaroslaw Adamowski may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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