IP Outreach Research > IP Use and Awareness


Title: Intellectual Property Experiences in the German Scientific Community
Author: Sandra Westerburg [German Research Foundation], Stephen Hansen, Jana Asher and Michael Kisielewski [American Association for the Advancement of Science]


Year: 2007


Subject/Type: IP Protection
Focus: Access to Information, Copyright, Patents
Country/Territory: Germany
Objective: To examine the acquisition and creation of intellectual property (IP) in the scientific community, and the effect of IP protections on the conduct of scientific research.
Sample: 967 Germany-based scientists/research professionals
Methodology: Web-based survey

Main Findings

20% of respondents reported having acquired protected intellectual property (IP) for use in their research in the last five years. In most cases acquired IP came either from industry (51%) or academia (37%). 78% classified their most recent acquisition as a research tool or input.

Overall, the most popular method of acquisition of IP was the use of exclusive licenses (used by 21% for their last request for protected IP). Non-exclusive licenses ranked second with 18%. Material transfer agreements (MTAs) ranked third with 14%. Purchases were employed by 11%, and informal agreements by 8%. Academic respondents mostly used exclusive licenses (23%), followed by nonexclusive licenses (15%), MTAs (13%), and confidentiality agreements (11%). In industry, mostly exclusive licenses were used (44%).

Technology acquisition time was dependent on the method of transfer employed and the sector of employment from which the technology was acquired. 23% of respondents reported that they had experienced difficulties in attempting to acquire IP-protected technologies. Difficulty in obtaining IP resulted in delayed research (45% of those experiencing difficulties), changing research (35%), and abandoning research (3%). The main reasons for changing/abandoning research were “overly complex licensing negotiations”, “inability to determine the IP status of the technology”, and “royalties were too high”.

In total, 33% of respondents reported having created IP eligible for protection. The most-used method to protect IP was patents (used by 36%), followed by copyright (29%); informal protection methods were “delayed publication” (14%), followed by “not publishing at all” (12%), and by “withholding data/information” (7%).

88% of respondents reported that their scientific work had been published, mostly in peer-reviewed journals. The most important motivations for publishing the results of scientific work were “to inform others” (95%), “to gather feedback” (54%), “professional advancement” (50%), and “to gain/justify research funding” (49%). Preventing others from acquiring IP protections did not appear to be a primordial motivation for publishing scientific work.

The decision as to how/where to publish depended on the following criteria: dissemination (70%), prestige (58%), and timeliness (29%). Just 15% retained copyrights to their most recent publication (50% did not). Only 9% had used alternative, open access licensing models. Generally, access to scientific literature was perceived to have become easier. Still, 32% of respondents reported difficulties in gaining access to scientific literature (54% did not). Difficulties in accessing copyrighted scientific literature resulted in delayed research, but only very rarely in abandoning a research project.

Data from publicly funded sources was used by 57%, about one fifth of which reported having experienced difficulties in obtaining such data. The most-cited problems experienced were substantial delays in the transfer of data and denied access. These difficulties resulted in “some negative effects on research” (67%), “serious negative effects” (13%) or “no effects” (7%).

[Date Added: Nov 20, 2008 ]