Are IPR protection costs eligible in Horizon Europe?

A frequent question companies have is whether IPR costs can be charged to a HE project. What about fees to register a trademark? Are patent fees eligible? Many questions arise regarding IPR costs. And this is natural, because research projects seek to innovate and protect the results.

There are different forms of protection and companies are free to choose the most adequate depending on the characteristics of the results. The standard forms of protection are patents, trademarks, industrial design and copyright. While the latter does not require registration, patents, trademarks or industrial designs require filing an application before the relevant registration body.

Costs related to the protection of project results may be eligible if they fulfil the cost eligibility conditions. However, keep in mind that costs related to protection of results that were previously generated (e.g., background patents) are not eligible.

General eligibility conditions

In order to be eligible, IPR costs must be:

  • actually incurred by the beneficiary (not just estimated or budgeted),
  • incurred during the project (except for costs relating to the submission of the final periodic report),
  • declared under one of the budget categories,
  • connected to the project and necessary for its implementation,
  • identifiable and verifiable (supported by documentation),
  • in compliance with applicable national laws on taxes, labour and social security,
  • reasonable, justified and in compliance with the principle of sound financial management.

Background patents

As previously noted, costs related to protection of background patents are NOT eligible. ‘Background’ means any tangible or intangible input (from data to know-how, information or rights) that exists before the grant is signed and that is needed to implement the project or to exploit its results (e.g., database rights, patents, prototypes, cell lines, etc).

Background potentially extends to anything that the beneficiaries lawfully hold (e.g., through a licence with the right to sub-licence). If the beneficiary is a legal person, it also extends to input held by other parts of the beneficiary’s organisation. Therefore, if the application was filed before the grant is signed, the costs will not be eligible.

There are many aspects to consider if you want to charge IPR costs to the project. We can help you analyse costs on a case-by case basis. Do not hesitate to contact us at: