Intellectual property

Last reviewed 
25 August 2017

Medical research charities want patients to benefit from the research they fund. Protecting discoveries and exploiting intellectual property (IP) are vital stages in the development of new drugs and treatments. If IP is not protected, there is nothing to stop someone else from copying the deisgn or process without consent or payment.

IP protection falls into four categories:

  • Copyright protects written, dramatic and artistic works, software, films, sounds and braodcasts
  • Patents protect technical inventions like novel products or processe
  • Trademarks distinguish the goods and services of one organisaiton from another 
  • Design rights protect the visial appearance of products.

Patents and trademarks need to be registerd, copyrights and design rights do not.

Contacts  or terms and conditions of research grants shuld specify who owns IP arising from the project and how it will be monitored and any revenue shared.  Inventions in medical research are often based on research from a number of projects, and have layers of IP with different institutions and funders who have all been involved. 

AMRC's Guidelines on IP terms and conditions provide advice for medical research charities to ensure that IP arising from the research they fund is approporiatley protected.

Charities that are interested in funding research that may generate IP should also consider how they are helping protect and exploit IP. AMRC's Benefiting from innovation: intellectual property advice for medical research charities provides more information and case studies that can help.