With some exceptions, the Trust does not hold or claim ownership rights over IP or IPR resulting from research it funds. The Trust instead requires the Grantee's institution, the PI and project staff to protect their Kirkhouse-funded IP only if protection is needed to ensure that this IP will be available for their own future research and for public-sector benefit. All IP arising from Kirkhouse-funded projects should be clearly identified and inventoried to assure that ownership is clearly documented. The Trust requires that valid and enforceable mechanisms be in place to ensure that inventions, improved germplasm, know-how, and materials developed with funding from the Kirkhouse Trust be protected from any limitations on their use to advance the causes of food security and the improvement of the lives of poor people around the world. In some cases, the interest of food security and the improvement of the lives of the poor can best be advanced by placing the results of work supported by the Trust rapidly in the public domain, such as through scientific publication. In such cases, appropriate publication effectively prevents others from patenting the same or similar inventions.
All patents or other forms of claiming formal ownership of the results of Kirkhouse-funded research shall be managed by the owner in a manner that ensures a reasonable time of royalty-free access for public (non-commercial) entities operating in developing countries, and/or shall give Kirkhouse royalty-free license with the ability to sub-license for humanitarian purposes. The Trust also requires that institutions be willing to license or assign rights to an appropriate international public agricultural research system ITP portfolio, should one be developed, to facilitate use of research results to help food insecure subsistence farmers in developing countries.
If Kirkhouse Trust decides to retain ownership to IP, this will be stated in the contract associated with the particular project. A clause which has been used in these circumstances is as follows: Any materials or data generated by the project will remain in the ownership of the Kirkhouse Trust. Kirkhouse Trust hereby provides the Grantee's institution with a royalty-free license which allows it and others, who comply with Kirkhouse Trust's IP policies, to use the material and data.
Within the context of existing institutional IP policies, grantees and project partners shall take all reasonable steps to:
- Provide reasonable and ready access by public-sector beneficiaries to property, materials and processes;
- Avoid unreasonable commercial exploitation of such material and processes for purposes that diminish growth of public-sector agriculture in developing countries; and
- Avoid encumbering materials and processes in statutory protection such that they cannot be used for public benefit.
The above is an abbreviated version of the full Kirkhouse Trust IP Statement, which is included in all Research Grant agreements between the Trust and institutions managing Trust funded research. If you would like to see the full statement, please contact us to obtain an electronic copy.
(25th April 2013)