The delicate interplay between ensuring protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and fostering knowledge circulation will be at the core of the workshop 'IPR, Technology Transfer & Open Science - Challenges and opportunities', which will take place on March 9th in Brussels. Starting from the idea that Open Science does not mean 'free science', the participants will discuss the approaches to striking a good balance between protected data and open access to information.
The present Workshop, jointly organised by JRC and DG Research and Innovation, gathers experts in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Technology Transfer, Open Science and cloud computing, with a view to analysing the interaction between these elements and, in particular, to understanding to what extent the current European copyright framework is fit for an Open Science setting. The Workshop is expected to result in a set of policy recommendations to be included in a policy brief following discussions.
Open Science represents a new approach to the scientific process based on cooperative work and new ways of knowledge distribution using digital technologies and new collaborative tools; it promotes effective data sharing (i.e as early and broad as possible) and a dynamic exchange of ideas and research results. Compared to traditional research methods where publishing and patenting take precedence over collaboration and sharing, Open Science favours joint efforts and sharing results as early and as widely as possible to engage with broader communities and tackle global challenges more effectively. As a consequence, in principle, no knowledge or discovery is completely "owned", rather shared to benefit society at large.
Besides the social and peer recognition sought by researchers for their work, private research organisations need concrete boost to undertake the risky investments that enable the commercialisation of innovative products. Both aspects require some degree of protection in connection with an original creation or idea, for a limited period of time. IPR have a clear role to play, as a way to incentivise individual efforts and to induce corporate investment.
However, while IPR certainly appear as a vital instrument for research and innovation, its role should not be overstated. Arguably, IPR that are introduced already during the scientific discovery process may inhibit the very collaborative patterns set forth by Open Science. An appropriate level and type of protection should allow to strike the right balance between the incentives needed for an initial creation and the freedom to reuse and improve upon such creation.
Therefore, the following questions are at the core of today's discussion: what amount and type of IPR protection is desirable in an Open Science context? Do we need additional guidance to apply the current IPR framework?