The EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) as its name implies was launched to provide a solid background for European Innovation and research in order to boost its competitiveness. However, cooperation and partnerships on sensitive fields of research may trigger problems among the partners regarding intellectual property rights (IPRs).
Though FP7 is to encourage pan-European cooperation at all possible fields of research, a really good idea on one side may not want to find its way to the other partners unless it is ensured that the others will not take advantage of the gained knowledge to pursue their own goals.
This subject is better to be sorted out well prior the actual cooperation starts, in order to avoid future misunderstandings and awkward, sometimes financially hurting situations.
At the moment one of my proposals require the same attention, not just on the side of the parties involved, but mine as the coordinator, too. The last thing I want to happen that I am able to convince the idea owner to participate in FP7, but I do not pay enough attention making it sure that his intellectual property is well protected against any potential risk while in the consortium, thus making him to lose his advantage over the others causing him serious damage.
Technical details may need to be revealed to specific partners well before the proposal submission deadline in order to allow them to develop their concepts regarding the WP they might lead. This may generate a bit of extra paperwork and good communication as coordinator towards the parties is key.
Usually a general form of confidentiality agreement is signed between the parties. It usually contains administrative details and some general rules which of course can be customized if the original form is considered to be too general for the purpose. In this case, the partner who wishes to participate the project but fears of revealing his idea without any protection to others has to update the form or to write a brand new confidentiality agreement addressing all the issues he thinks are important.
Most of the time legal help is essential to deliver such a document, but all the related costs are on the requesting party. Such costs are non-eligible since not even a proposal have been submitted addressing the given call. Once the agreement is ready and approved by the other party/parties too then we can get back to the regular steps of proposal preparation and hoping for the best that such an agreement is just for protection against the worst case scenario, and that the other partners do not participate in the project solely to take advantage of others IPRs.