Intellectual property

When you put intellectual effort (thought) into creating something, such as a story, an invention, an artistic work, a symbol or a collection of data, you own that work and you have certain rights. This is known as intellectual property (IP). If you have ownership (IP) of a work, and someone else wants to use it, they have to ask your permission.

Intellectual property can:

  • have more than one owner

  • belong to people or businesses

  • be sold or transferred.

Each country is likely to have specific laws that govern the IP of data or data infrastructure. For example, data collected by commercial organisations as part of their investment in clinical trials research for new therapeutic interventions may be covered by IP laws. The use of international health data standards, as a part of data infrastructure, may include specific licensing requirements, which are governed by these IP laws.

Recent research in Europe has looked at national approaches to sharing data between private companies and governments, in a way that preserves commercial advantage and IP, while enabling public good. These emerging approaches may be worth reviewing when considering IP laws and their impact on data sharing projects.

Key questions to ask:

  • Which are the existing IP rights associated with the health data to be collected, accessed, used or shared?

  • Is there any IP legislation that may be relevant to the collection, sharing and use of health data?

  • What is the IP legislation governing the ownership of any output and/or deliverables arising from health projects?

  • Are there any published data sharing agreements in place that show how others have addressed IP agreements between data sharing stakeholders? Are there any IP considerations related to insights or model generation resulting from third party research? What can you learn from these examples?

Useful resources:

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