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Module 8: Project Closeout

2.12 Intellectual property management

Accurate capture of intellectual property (IP) at the conclusion of a project is important for a number of reasons:

  • It can be a requirement of the project that all IP generated is captured and reported
  • If there is to be any commercialisation of IP it will be important to be able to verify in future what IP was generated during this particular project, and what stage of development it was at when the project ended
  • If there is to be a follow-on project in a similar area, or involving similar personnel, it is extremely useful to have a record of the status of any IP at the conclusion of the prior project

Module 7 goes into more detail on the principles of good IP management. With regard to project closeout, the specific actions which should be taken regarding intellectual property include:

  • Ensure all project documentation is well-secured and in good order (see previous section for details). As part of this, it is particularly important that documentation relating to any registered IP (e.g. patents) is easily accessible – an index or lookup guide can be helpful for this purpose
  • Ensure that a complete and up to date record exists of all registered rights (e.g. patents, trademarks, etc.), including the countries in which they have been applied for and their current status. You should also note which agents (e.g. patent attorneys) have been involved with the applications
  • Ensure that a process is in place for managing any of the registered rights identified above, including who will meet any costs, how decisions on maintaining or abandoning registration will be made, and how any proceeds from commercialisation outcomes will be distributed. It is important to be mindful of any upcoming deadlines imposed by registering bodies (e.g. patent offices) and ensure that sufficient time is made available to reach any required decisions
  • Ensure that a list of all other forms of intellectual property (e.g. publications, conference presentations, etc.) is compiled to enable efficient reporting of activities and dissemination of the project outcomes

The process of commercialisation of intellectual property can (and usually does) take a long time and involve a number of different players, including non-research personnel. The guiding principle for project closeout should therefore be to picture someone you have never met trying to determine several years in the future what IP was generated during the project and by whom. If you are diligent in the way you handle IP at project closeout, you will significantly increase the probability that any IP generated in the project will eventually be successfully commercialised.

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