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Policy on Intellectual Property

As of April 1, 2018, NSERC’s Policy on Intellectual Property (IP) has been simplified to provide flexible access to IP developed as a result of NSERC funding, while ensuring that the rights of all participants are protected.

NSERC’s Policy on Intellectual Property (IP) promotes the use and/or exploitation of knowledge and open access to results of research funded by NSERC. Unless otherwise explicitly indicated in program literature, this policy is applicable to all NSERC programs. NSERC claims no rights of ownership to IP associated with an award. 

Guiding Principles

NSERC’s Policy on IP comprises the following principles:

  • Encourage the utilization of results of research funded wholly or in part by NSERC for the benefit of Canada and Canadians.
  • Promote the development of fruitful and productive partnerships and recognize the unique contribution each partner brings to the partnership while protecting the IP assets of all participants.
  • Support the publication of research results in the open literature. NSERC does not support secret or classified research.
  • Ensure that a student’s graduation is not impeded by IP issues.
  • Support a researcher’s right to use his/her research results for non-commercial purposes in future research and in teaching.

 Participants in NSERC-supported research must adhere to the following mandatory elements:

  1. Confidential Information: The IP assets of all participants must be respected. A partner’s proprietary data, commercially sensitive information and potentially valuable results or ideas must be protected from unauthorized, inadvertent or untimely disclosure.
  2. Research results cannot be secret: Results of NSERC-funded research cannot be considered confidential information of the participant. The institution must give the other partners the opportunity to review proposed publications. Publication of research results should not expose a partner’s proprietary information without the partner’s express permission to do so.
  3. Academic progression: There can be no delay for the defence of a student’s thesis.

Additional Considerations

A signed research agreement is a best practice for the management of IP. The ownership and protection of IP generated in the collaborative research partnerships must be carried out according to the principles described above. Participants are urged to discuss intellectual property issues at the earliest stages in the development of a partnership.

As a condition of accepting an award, grantees agree to disclose to their institutions any IP with commercial potential arising from the award, should they decide to commercialize.

It is the responsibility of the institution and supervising researcher to ensure that all students, postdoctoral fellows and other research personnel involved in a research project are fully informed as to their obligations and rights within the project. NSERC has developed a set of guidelines which outline the roles of the various participants and key issues to be considered.

To aid participants, NSERC has developed a set of samples clauses to provide illustrative examples of clauses that conform to NSERC’s IP policy and that can be used as possible starting points in discussions between partners.