EPFL-TTO Introduces Innovative Public Domain Agreements

© 2024 EPFL-TTO - New public domain contract template

© 2024 EPFL-TTO - New public domain contract template

EPFL-Technology Transfer Office, in collaboration with EPFL’s legal staff, has developed the Public Domain Agreement template to streamline partnerships with companies by focusing on public dissemination of results

After a test period with early-adopter partners, the Technology Transfer Office of École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) now offers to its research sponsors a new, additional, framework contract option. This agreement is tailored for research projects that are aimed at enhancing collaboration and knowledge dissemination. Known as EPFL’s "Public Domain Agreement," this new contractual structure is designed to streamline partnerships with companies where intellectual property (IP) rights are not a central concern, thereby freeing the way for the promotion of free and unrestricted exchange of ideas and innovations between the industrial partner and EPFL researchers. This framework complements the current collaboration portfolio offer of industrial grants, research collaborations and service contracts, which can be accessed here.

The rationale underlying this new collaboration contract template is that research agreements can involve intricate negotiations around IP rights, which can often be a significant hurdle to rapid and effective collaboration, while not all partnerships necessitate the protection of exclusive IP rights. In particular, in scenarios where the involved parties agree from the outset to release any developed software under open-source licenses, the traditional approach to IP management becomes redundant. Recognizing this, the EPFL-Technology Transfer Office, in collaboration with EPFL’s legal staff, has developed the Public Domain Agreement template to specifically address these situations, thus circumventing negotiations on IP rights by ensuring from the outset that the outcomes of such projects are to be freely accessible to the public.

A Paradigm Shift in Collaboration

The essence of the Public Domain Agreements lies in their commitment to public dissemination. Projects governed by these agreements will see all results obtained by EPFL published and made available to the public, with a firm stipulation that no patents will be filed by either party involved, nor can be by third parties given that the knowledge produced is made openly available. This ensures that the knowledge and innovations generated can be freely utilized and built upon by anyone. Software developed under these agreements will be released under open-source licenses, further reinforcing the project’s commitment to general welfare. Last but not least, this approach not only accelerates the diffusion of new technologies and ideas but also fosters a collaborative environment where advancements can be achieved more rapidly through pooled efforts and expertise.

Broadening the Impact

For researchers, this initiative offers a clear and straightforward pathway in sponsored research to disseminate their findings widely. For industry partners, especially those having adopted open-source software principles, it provides an opportunity to engage in more open and collaborative projects, allowing for more agile and flexible cooperation.

Simplifying the Process

The availability of this template on EPFL-TTO's website offers a rapid and simple path to the launch of collaborative projects free of IP-related discussion delays and promoting an efficient and transparent contracting process.

For more information and access to the Public Domain Agreement templates, interested parties can visit the dedicated section on the EPFL-TTO website here.

Source: Innovation

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