Poland: Private companies will be able to purchase rights to new inventions from university scientists

26 November 2013

Małgorzata Darowska

Companies will now be able to acquire new technologies from scientists who are employed at universities and own the rights to the solutions created.

For several years now the Polish government has taken firm action in the economy designed to stimulate innovation, cooperation between science and business, as well as transfer of new technologies developed by state research units (SRU), such as universities, research institutes and scientific institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

One of the above-mentioned actions was an amendment to the Act on Higher Education, which in 2010 imposed the obligation on universities to establish special purpose vehicles which were supposed to manage intellectual property rights and the transfer of new technologies within economy.

Despite noticeable interest in innovations and new technologies transfer, in the government's opinion, current attempts to facilitate the transfer have not brought about the desired effects. According to the experts, this is caused primarily by the absence of interest in commercialisation on the SRU's side and the lack of motivation towards such actions. As the prepared report confirms, scientists who are deprived of the possibility of obtaining financial benefits from applying the results of their works, are not willing to cooperate.

Inspired by examples from other countries like Sweden, the decision was made that so-called scientists' enfranchisement should be introduced. This is expected to take place in the form of an amendment, the key points of which are as follows:

  1. Guarantee of intellectual property rights to the results of scientific research, inventions or other goods protected by law to their actual authors, i.e. SRU scientific staff, doctoral students and other students.

  2. Granting the right to commercialise such results to their authors, simultaneously imposing the obligation to share profits from their sales with the SRUs, to license or apply other forms of commercialisation (it is estimated that the SRUs will have the right to at least 25% of the profits or 30% if they support authors in the commercialisation process).

If the amendment is passed and enters into effect, it will introduce a significant change in the rules on managing scientific research results and will also have an important impact on business as it will create new opportunities for companies interested in acquiring technology, created within SRUs.

Currently the amendment is in its final stages of government debate and will be adopted by the end of this year. The amendment is planned to enter into effect in the middle of 2014.