All IP developed in the course and scope of one’s employment at the CSIR is owned by the CSIR, in terms of the CSIR Act, the IP rights from publicly financed research Act 51 of 2008 (IPRPFRD Act) and the CSIR’s Conditions of Service.
IP generated by a CSIR employee in his/her own time and which is unrelated to the course and scope of his/her normal duties as a CSIR employee, and which is generated without making use of CSIR resources, would be owned by the employee in his/her personal capacity.
When IP should be considered
In the first instance, this should be part of the project design. Just as literature searches are necessary to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’ and repeating research that has already been done by someone else, so, too, are patent searches important prior to commencing a research project, as many patented inventions are never actually published. The patent databases also provide useful information on experts and companies in your field of interest. Patent searches should then be updated periodically during the course of your research project, so that you can remain up-to-date with the latest developments.
Laboratory notebooks and record-keeping
Research records must be kept in compliance with the CSIR’s Conduct of Research and Records Management Policies, and Laboratory Notebook Guidelines. Laboratory notebooks are important not only for recording research data, but can also be of evidentiary value in matters relating to IP and research fraud. Researchers should record their research results daily in a bound notebook in permanent ink, and ensure that this is witnessed and signed off at least weekly by another researcher. Completed notebooks must be properly archived.
R&D collaborations & externally funded R&D projects
Appropriate contracts must be executed prior to commencing work on collaborative and/or externally-funded R&D projects, and should include provisions for the ownership and management of IP in accordance with the CSIR Contract R&D: Contracting with External Clients Policy. These terms are negotiated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the contributions made by the relevant parties and the resources available to them. As a default position, IP developed at the CSIR will be owned by the CSIR. Any background IP being contributed to a project by either party, or IP which is being deliberately withheld from a project, should be listed.
Appropriate IP arrangements should be made in advance of the arrival of visiting scientists at the CSIR and agreed upon in a contract between the CSIR, the scientist’s employer and the visiting scientist.
This also applies to cases where CSIR researchers spend time working at other research institutions and such CSIR researchers should ensure that they do not inadvertently agree to any terms imposed by a host institution which might prejudice any CSIR IP. All agreements from the host institution should be properly vetted in accordance with CSIR procedures.