Effective ownership of results

To work out whether you have effective ownership of the results you must look at the circumstances in which the R&D activities are conducted and what practical, as well as formal, rights you have to the results from those activities, such as the intellectual property, the know-how or similar results arising from your R&D activities. This does not necessarily mean that you must be the proprietor of a piece of intellectual property in any formal sense. These rights may not be available, or the formal owner of the resulting intellectual property may hold it on terms that you have all the advantages of ownership. For example, you may not be the formal holder of the patent but have the right (without further fee or payment) to:

  • use a patent
  • require the patent to be licensed
  • restrict or direct further development based on the patent.

In most cases, a company with all those rights would have effective ownership of the results in question.

You may give some theoretical rights of ownership to intellectual property or results to others without denying your effective ownership of them. For example, you might completely control results of R&D activities, yet permit the contract researcher some exclusive scientific publication rights.

In some cases, use of results may only be possible in limited ways or for limited purposes, so that limited rights may amount to effective ownership. For example, exclusive rights of commercial use and development for only a few years might amount to full effective ownership in an area of R&D that is short-term.

Example: Effective ownership of results

Company C is an R&D entity carrying out its business and R&D activities solely in Australia. Company C enters into a contract with a buyer, Company Z, to supply a new product meeting certain specifications. Both companies know that Company C will need a program of R&D to fulfil its contract. In fulfilling the supply contract, Company C is under no obligation to supply working papers or background research to Company Z.

Even if Company Z is the sole purchaser, or one of only a few potential purchasers, of the intended product, Company C effectively owns the results of the R&D. This is because Company C alone controls and uses the R&D results. Therefore, Company C can claim the R&D tax incentive, subject to meeting other requirements.

End of example
    Last modified: 21 Apr 2015QC 26121