Intellectual property

The purpose of research is to expand our body of knowledge and increase the world's scientific and cultural heritage. The creative process of knowledge generation begins with the research scientist, who also plays a key role in initiating the valorization of that knowledge. The research scientist should thus be given the opportunity to remain the main actor in the process of knowledge valorization. Public sector research involves many scientists—members of either research centres, groups or networks—as well as private- and public-sector partners. Not surprisingly, these individuals and institutions have varying interests.


Managing intellectual property – a precious good that must be protected – and knowledge valorization requires that the highest standards of intellectual probity be respected. Best practices in knowledge valorization must reflect the considerations for scientific integrity, honesty and fairness in the relationships between members of the research community, the institutions and partners, as well as for the ethical principles that should guide the conduct of research activities, the presentation of research findings and the sound use of public and private funds.

The 1991 Act respecting health services and social services tasked university-affiliated healthcare institutions (university hospital centres (UHC), university institutes (UI) and affiliated university centres (AUC)) with four missions: service, teaching, technology evaluation and research. Fulfilling the research mission means contracting university partnerships approved by the institution, the university and the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS). In most cases, the research mission is carried out in a research centre which is funded and periodically reviewed by the FRQS.

These university-affiliated health care institutions are entrusted with the use of public funds and thus have an important role to play. Their boards of directors are accountable to the public for fulfillment of the four missions (including research), for proper use of public funds, as well as for management of intellectual property and knowledge valorization. They are responsible for ensuring that any financial benefits resulting from inventions, patents and copyrights are shared fairly. The same applies to the institution's researchers, university researchers hosted by the institution and private-sector researchers associated with the institution or benefitting from its human and physical resources.

The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) was quick to address the issue of intellectual property management. Following the release of the Québec government policy on science and innovation (Politique québécoise de la science et de l'innovation, Ministère de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie, 2001), the FRQS's Board of Directors adopted a policy for knowledge valorization within university affiliated health institutions (Politique de valorisation des connaissances dans les établissements universitaires de santé). That policy helped to harmonize and streamline intellectual property management in the  healthcare institutions that host a FRQS-accredited research centre. Strict observance of the FRQS policy has been a criterion for obtaining FRQS funding since July 2002. The policy is also applied in accordance with the Plan d'action – Gestion de la propriété intellectuelle dans les universités et les établissements du réseau de la santé et des services sociaux où se déroulent des activités de recherche (intellectual property action plan), adopted by the ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation in 2002. This Action Plan applies to all research activities funded by the FRQS, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) or the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et Culture (FRQSC) that take place in universities and affiliated health institutions.

 

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