General information about

Intellectual property (IP) & IPR

IP and IPR

What is intellectual property (IP)?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the human mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, databases and designs. Intellectual property rights protect these creations and allow the creators to benefit from them by granting them exclusive rights to use, sell, or licence their creations.

There are several types of intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and industrial designs.

Intellectual property encourages innovation and creativity by providing legal protection and economic incentives for creators to invest time and resources in developing new ideas and technologies. It also helps to promote fair competition by preventing others from using or benefiting from someone else’s ideas without permission or compensation.

Types of intellectual property:

What are intellectual property databases?

Intellectual property databases are digital collections of information related to patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property. These databases are typically maintained by government agencies, such as patent, trademark or copyright offices, and are often accessible to the public free of charge. However, there are also several private entities who offer IP databases with various value added features and benefits and typically charge something for their use.

The information contained in intellectual property databases can be used for a variety of purposes, such as conducting prior art searches to determine the novelty of an invention, monitoring the status of patent applications or registered trademarks, and researching the ownership or licensing of intellectual property rights.

Access to intellectual property databases can be useful for individuals, companies, and organisations seeking to protect or exploit their own intellectual property rights, as well as for those seeking to avoid infringing on the intellectual property rights of others. Some also offer additional information such as publications, funding grants, etc.

What are IP tools?

IP tools are critical for creating, protecting, and managing intellectual property assets. There are numerous tools available to help individuals and businesses safeguard their intellectual property, including patent databases, trademark and industrial design search tools, copyright registration systems, and IP management software. They also include various databases and search engines for identifying existing IP and assessing the novelty and inventiveness of new ideas. Additionally, there are software tools available to help individuals and businesses manage their IP portfolios, monitor potential infringements, and track licensing agreements. They can include only one type of IP data, or several types (e.g. on patents, and trademarks), as well as other innovation-related data, such as publications etc. There is a limited number of available free-of-charge IP tools, but a variety of freemium and payable tools, which have additional analytics capabilities.

Why are intellectual property databases and tools important for circularity and sustainability?

Intellectual property databases and tools, including search engines, analytic software, and monitoring systems, play an important role in promoting circularity and sustainability in several ways.

Firstly, they facilitate the sharing of knowledge and innovation related to environmentally sustainable technologies and practices and help prevent unnecessary duplication of research and development efforts, thus reducing the environmental impact of innovation.

Secondly, by enabling individuals and organisations to search for and access information about existing patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property rights related to sustainable technologies and practices, IP databases and tools facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing among researchers, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders. Moreover, these tools can identify gaps in the intellectual property landscape, indicating where further innovation and research are needed and where gaps in our circular and sustainable innovation are.

Additionally, IP tools also play a vital role in protecting and incentivizing sustainable innovation by providing legal protection and economic incentives for creators to invest time and resources in developing new environmentally sustainable technologies and practices. For example, patent analytics tools can help identify patent infringement, and monitoring systems can track and enforce compliance with environmental regulations. In this way, IP tools can foster innovation while also ensuring that sustainable technologies are protected and properly recognized.

In summary, the benefits of utilising intellectual property databases and tools cannot be overstated. By promoting collaboration, reducing duplication, incentivizing innovation, identifying gaps, and protecting sustainable technologies and practices, these resources are essential for advancing circularity and sustainability. We encourage you to explore the power of intellectual property databases and tools to support your own efforts in promoting a more sustainable future.

What is technology transfer and what are TTOs?

Technology transfer refers to the process of sharing and disseminating knowledge, expertise, and innovations from one entity (i.e. organisation) to another. It can involve the transfer of scientific research, technological advancements, or intellectual property from universities, research institutions, or businesses to industries, startups, or other organisations that can apply and commercialise these ideas. The aim is to bridge the gap between research and practical implementation, thereby fostering innovation and consequently supporting development and societal and environmental progress.

Technology Transfer Offices (TTO), sometimes also referred to as Knowledge Transfer Offices (KTO),  are specialised units that operate within universities, research institutions, or corporations, dedicated to managing the transfer of knowledge and technology to industry and third parties for commercialization. The main objective of a TTO is to facilitate the transfer of innovative ideas and knowledge from academia to the private sector, while also protecting and managing the intellectual property created by the institution’s researchers and faculty. TTOs provide a range of services, such as patent and licensing advice, legal support, and assistance with commercialization strategies. In addition to fostering collaboration between academia and industry, TTOs also promote entrepreneurship and innovation.

Sustainability, circularity, and green technologies are becoming increasingly important in the modern world, and TTOs can play an important role in promoting their development and implementation. TTOs encourage and support the environmentally friendly and socially responsible development of new technologies, and facilitate their transfer to the private sector. They also provide guidance and support to researchers and entrepreneurs in developing sustainable business models, such as by promoting the use of renewable materials, reducing waste, and increasing the lifespan of products.

Furthermore, TTOs collaborate with industry partners to promote sustainable innovation and ensure that new technologies are implemented in a manner consistent with sustainability and circularity principles. They represent a crucial link in the chain of innovation, connecting academia with industry and promoting the development of technologies that benefit society and the environment.