Working together, Idiap’s unique legal approach

From European projects to intellectual property, meet Idiap’s legal advisor, Marie-Constance Landelle, whose work allows to improve Institute operations and to face new challenges.

A year and a half ago, Marie-Constance Landelle started to develop this newly created position. Today, she is able to look back and explain what is unique to this position and what are the challenges.

Why does a research institute and particularly Idiap need a legal advisor?

European and international projects, partnerships with businesses and collaborations with other research institutions are a daily routine in science. In such a framework, being able to know what is legal or not and how to negotiate it is crucial. Therefore, contract negotiation is a big part of my work. For European projects, there are frameworks, but sometimes you have to find bespoke solutions. For example, when an industrial partner is wishing to change the terms of the contract about intellectual property, it can be against the scientific partners’ interest. The situation is even more complicated when one partner is already bound by a previous agreement. The consultation and negotiation process is essential in such situations. Thanks to Idiap’s various projects and including my support to various internal activities, such as human resources, I am dealing with various fields of law: intellectual property, data protection, sale of services, as well as leasehold rights for the start-ups.

How was the start of your job and how are the collaborations with the other Idiap members going today?

At the beginning I was a bit confused, as I was alone and sometimes with no prior existing elements to build on. It was a learning by doing process. Fortunately, my colleagues are always nearby to help me and explain to me the technical aspects! I am really impressed by how the developers and the system and infrastructure teams have sound legal knowledge in their respective fields and a very hands-on approach. It is often thanks to their help that I am able to check the most technical terms of a contract. For example, I am currently negotiating a development contract for a software and services. Developers’ advice was crucial to write a warranty clause in case there is a bug in the software.

How did this legal advisor position evolve from the beginning and what are the next challenges?

The scope of my job quickly expanded. Among other things I was involved in the set-up of Idiap’s ethical committee and I am still a member of this committee. We have also decided to sell a service of legal advising for external businesses, such as our partners. In the near future, with a colleague from outside Idiap, we are also going to offer master classes on legal and ethical aspects of artificial intelligence, as there is currently no legal framework. It is a great challenge. From a personal point of view, I would like to continue to learn more in-depth content about some more specific legal domains such as data protection, research contracts and private/public development or technology transfer contracts.
Contact: Marie-Constance Landelle