Contracts and IP Protection

Contracts and IP Protection

A cooperation project with Fraunhofer can take any shape or size. The institutes take the approach of orienting themselves to the specific needs of the customer. Often a successful cooperation starts with a preliminary project. Be it a small or large project, the research and developments needs are met by Fraunhofer’s staff with the same degree of professionalism.

The first consultation phase is usually free-of-charge. Only once the extent of the cooperation has been decided and the corresponding agreements finalized does Fraunhofer charge for its R&D.

The customer holds ownership of the products, prototypes and other material objects developed as part of his contract. Moreover, he is entitled to use the inventions, property rights and the know-how resulting from the cooperation. These rights/licenses are not exclusive to the customer or for the application intended by the contract.

The customer can optimize his protection from competition by negotiating an exclusive right of usage in the context of the application. Fraunhofer maintains the option of developing the technology further and using its own know-how, the inventions and property rights outside of the scope of the “customer area”. This ensures that every customer benefits from the extensive technological background knowledge that Fraunhofer brings to their cooperation projects.

The data and know-how of the contracting company are always treated in the strictest confidence. Fraunhofer operates on a need-to-know basis: Confidential customer data is only provided to those Fraunhofer employees, who require them to carry out the actual project.  Where necessary, separate rooms and laboratory spaces are designated to maintain confidentiality. In some cases, competitors in a branch will deliberately jointly cooperate with Fraunhofer, as we provide an independent, pre-competition environment, in which synergies can be exploited.

Fraunhofer only uses the name of a contracting company in its PR if explicit permission has been granted. Otherwise, any PR on the project will be formulated to ensure the contracting company cannot be identified.