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The management of intellectual property by universities and public research organisations



Recommendation 2008/416/EC on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and Code of Practice for universities and other public research organisations


It aims to improve intellectual property (IP) management and knowledge transfer by universities and public research organisations (PROs) in EU countries.

In this recommendation, the European Commission encourages EU countries to introduce policies or guidelines to ensure that publicly-funded scientific research results are used commercially or for further research, to encourage the uptake of innovations.


Universities and PROs should manage their intellectual property to facilitate knowledge transfer, in particular by the granting of licences and the creation of spin-off companies.

In order to improve IP management and knowledge by European universities and PROs, this recommendation establishes a number of principles that EU countries are asked to folowwhen preparing their guidelines or rules.

In accordance with these principles, the Commission urges EU countries to:

  • make knowledge transfer a priority for universities and PROs;
  • invite universities and PROs to prepare and implement measures regarding intellectual property management in line with the Code of Practice set out in Annex I of the recommendation;
  • encourage the development of capacities and skills in intellectual property, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurial culture within universities and PROs;
  • enable the dissemination of publicly-funded research results, whilst ensuring that intellectual property is adequately protected;
  • cooperate with a view to improving the consistency of their respective schemes with regard to intellectual property, to facilitate collaboration and knowledge transfer on an international level in research and development;
  • use the principles set out in this recommendation as a basis to prepare or adapt guidelines and policies on IP management, knowledge transfer or new funding schemes, or to conclude cooperation agreements with non-EU countries in the field of research;
  • monitor the implementation of the Code of Practice;
  • guarantee equitable and fair treatment for international research projects in terms of intellectual property rights, in the mutual interest of all partners concerned;
  • designate a national contact responsible for the coordination of measures regarding knowledge transfer between public research organisations and the private sector;
  • examine and make use of the best practices set out in Annex II of the recommendation, taking into account the national context;
  • inform the Commission by 15 July 2010 and every 2 years thereafter of measures adopted on the basis of this recommendation, as well as their impact.

The Code of Practice for universities and other PROs proposes operational principles for PROs and universities to use when defining or revising their institutional policies. Universities should, in particular, encourage publicly-funded research results to be used and disseminated, whilst allowing intellectual property to be protected.


This recommendation is one of the five strategic initiatives planned by the Commission in 2008 following on from its Green Paper aimed at creating a genuine European Research Area. It is also based on the Commission’s 2007 communication on knowledge transfer.

For more information, see:


Commission Recommendation 2008/416/EC of 10 April 2008 on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and Code of Practice for universities and other public research organisations (OJ L 146, 5.6.2008, pp. 19–24)

last update 16.05.2018