Open IP: Sharing research outputs without intellectual property restrictions


  1. Enable researchers to identify the intellectual property rights relevant to their specific research outputs, as well as the implications of those rights for the reuse and modification of those outputs by others
  2. Create guides and tools needed to reduce or eliminate the restrictions arising from intellectual property rights
  3. Develop exemplary open IP agreements structuring public, private, and nonprofit collaborations and partnerships
  4. Inform researchers and institutions, through direct consultation and guides, about commercial options that do not rely on restrictive intellectual property rights


Aled Edwards
Aled Edwards
University of Toronto & Structural Genomics Consortium
Dylan Wade Roskams-Edris
Dylan Roskams-Edris
Tanenbaum Open Science Institute

Description & Deliverables

Intellectual property rights that prevent or restrict others from reusing, remixing, modifying, or otherwise using research outputs confound nearly all outputs of research. This includes data, protocols/methods, hardware and equipment designs, reagents, preprints, and papers. In order for projects to have real and rapid impact, researchers need to be able to share outputs in a way that reduces or eliminates intellectual property barriers. Furthermore, because of the centrality of restrictive IP rights within the policies of academic institutions and partnerships with industry, researchers need to be given the tools and arguments to commercialize outputs and form partnerships in ways that forgo restrictive IP rights.

The Flip-to-Open project is intended to serve as a “learn by doing” research project in which these issues are explored.

Deliverables for the legals/contracts portion

  • Guidelines and tools that allow researchers to identify the research outputs related to their research — preferably integrated into actual research plans and management systems (e.g., Data Management Plans and Pre-Registrations) and what IP rights impact those outputs
  • Guidelines, tools, and resources researchers can use to reduce or eliminate restrictive IP rights in research outputs
  • Examples and template agreements that allow researchers to create partnerships and conduct commercialization activities that reduce or forgo restrictive IP rights
  • Implement these strategies in a pilot project (see “Flip to Open”)

What’s Needed

  • A project – de novo or in progress – in which the researchers wish to make their outputs free of restrictive IP rights
  • Support from legal experts with experience in science and IP to help identify the IP rights relevant to different research outputs. They will also have to identify relevant licenses and help draft (in consultation with the relevant institutions and other entities) the agreements that enable partnerships and agreements that forgo restrictive IP.
  • Case studies and examples to include in the toolbox



Dario Alessi, Dick Wilder, Stefan Knapp