Intellectual Property

How do scientific results bring benefits to society and research and create added value?

Intellectual property: creating and securing valuable research results

Researchers invest considerable time and dedication into their studies, underscoring the importance of safeguarding their research findings and innovations.

Leveraging intellectual property (IP) emerges as a valuable asset, enabling scientists to highlight their scientific achievements, secure extra funding for research endeavors, and propel their technologies forward by implementing them in real-world applications.

What is intellectual property?
Why should research results be protected?
When to protect research results?

Types of IP


Patents are a crucial instrument for the transfer of research results. A patent is an intellectual property right granted to inventors for a technical invention.

It grants them the exclusive right to commercially use, sell, or license an invention. It allows them to prohibit others from using their invention.

By exploiting patents, financial gains can be achieved, and research can be further advanced.


Know-how is a form of intellectual property that pertains to knowledge and skills acquired through experience, research, and development.

It often represents implicit knowledge that cannot be easily documented or patented.

It provides researchers with a competitive advantage and can serve as a foundation for knowledge-based startups or spin-offs.


Depending on the type and scope of protection, software can represent different forms of intellectual property.

In most countries, software is protected under copyright law as it is considered a creative work that falls under the category of literary works.

However, software can also be protected by patents if it is deemed an invention and contains technical aspects that are not obvious.

From the lab to an intellectual property

1. Reporting an invention

The first step in securing IP is to report the invention to the employer. Scientists are required to promptly report their inventions to facilitate a swift processing and examination of protection.

At Forschungszentrum Jülich, invention disclosure is done through the Patent Department.

2. Obtaining IP rights

Once the invention has been reported, the Patent Department examines whether IP rights should be sought for the invention.

Depending on the type of invention and existing IP rights, various IP rights such as patents, utility models, trade marks or designs, may be considered.

3. Consider exploitation

It is important to look at different exploitation options.

This includes searching for potential licensees, launching a spin-off or cooperating with industrial partners.

The Innovation Management of FZ Jülich supports scientists in all matters related to exploitation and provides guidance in these processes.

Using Intellectual Property

Establishing industrial collaborations

Industry collaborations are a way for scientists to turn their research results into successful products or services while maximising the societal benefits of their work.

Such collaborations require the protection of intellectual property through patents, copyrights or trademark rights. A successful collaboration requires close cooperation between the scientists and the industrial partners to evaluate the potential of the research results and to develop a joint commercialisation plan.

Legal, financial and technical aspects must be considered to develop a successful product or service.

Opportunities in industrial cooperations

Entering into license agreements

Licensing agreements provide scientists with the opportunity to exploit their research results without giving up ownership of the intellectual property.

They can retain the right to further develop and utilize their results in other areas. Negotiating a license agreement requires a thorough review of the intellectual property rights and the terms of contract.

A successfull licence agreement requires a clear definition of the rights and obligations of both parties, as well as a detailed description of the use of the intellectual property.

Technology offers at the FZ Jülich

Supporting non-profit organisations

When collaborating with government or nonprofit organisations, intellectual property plays a significant role as it involves the utilisations of research findings for non-profit purposes or the public interest.

The rights to use the intellectual property typically remain with the research institution, which grants a license to the organisation for its use.

The terms of the license agreement can be negotiated to ensure that the research findings are used in the best possible way and benefit society.

Transfer to society

Launching a spin-off

Founding their own company allows scientists to continue their research more independently.

Spin-offs offer the advantage of implementing their research findings in their own way.

It takes entrepreneurial thinking and skills to set up a successfull company. Forschungszentrum Jülich provides specific support opportunities for scientists considering a spin-off, assisting them in developing the founding and obtaining financing during the pre-foudning phase.

Launching a spin-off at FZ Jülich
Discover our most recent spin-offs

Creating technology offers to find licensing partners

Peter Grünberg and Albert Fert discovered the giant magnetoresistance effect, which proved to be even more significant than it already sounded: shortly after, thanks to this technology, American multinational technology corporation IBM succeeded in developing hard drives with enourmas storage capacities.

What other effects and leaps does Jülich research make possible? Scientists may publish exposés: these technology offers help technology scouts and industry partners understand new technologies and their potential. Collaborations or license agreements provide their research with new resources and avenues to advance or further develop solutions to technological problems.

Discover current technology offers of FZ Jülich

Last Modified: 05.02.2024