Open industry specifications, models and software for e-health
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Intellectual Property

This page describes the principles and formal conditions on the use of openEHR IP, and of openEHR's use of 3rd party IP, including such things as terminology.


Licensing of openEHR artefacts is based on following principles:

  • openEHR Specifications, Software and Clinical Models (archetypes, templates and terminology subsets) available at no cost.
  • Specifications, open source software and Clinical Models can be used without restriction in commercial products.
  • Protection to ensure that authoring of derivative models (archetypes, templates and terminology subsets) by one party does not in any way limit the rights of others to create those same models.
  • Forms or other software artefacts using the models as inputs can be protected in the same way as any other work is protected commercially.
  • Query languages using the models may be freely developed and protected commercially without restriction.
  • The IP of the specifications of models (e.g. openEHR Reference Model, Archetype formalism etc) is protected by the Foundation independently of derivative expressions (e.g. ADL, XML etc), which are typically not definitive and may be licensed more openly.
  • Require Contributors to declare if there are any current or future IP or patent claims in any content being contributed.
  • Clinical models based on copyrighted 'scales' or 'scores' (eg Glasgow Coma, Braden etc) have formal agreement covering the IP use.
  • Have a formal agreement to use any terminology codes, value sets and reference sets where required.

openEHR IP

The three areas of work that constitute the main Foundation IP are available for use according to the following:

Asset Description Copyright Licence
Specification Official specifications of the Foundation (see below for details). openEHR Foundation Creative Commons CC-BY-ND. Details
Clinical Models Archetypes, Templates and Terminology subsets developed by the community openEHR Foundation Creative Commons for organisational and individual use. CC-BY-(SA) The Share Alike (SA) is specifically applied to derived archatypes and templates only. Details
Software Software with IP rights ascribed to the openEHR Foundation openEHR Foundation, or original authoring organisation Generally, Apache 2 License Details

Other IP such as logos, ad hoc presentations, conference posters are copyright to the Foundation and/or to contributing author(s), and are licensed for use under an open licence by agreement with the original authors, where this is not the Foundation; typically a CC- licence.


The Specifications Program generates various kinds of artefact, all covered by the CC licence described above. They are primarily maintained in the openEHR Github specifications-XX Git repositories. They include:

  • Documentary specifications - published format, in any of the following forms:
    • HTML (rendered format on a wiki),
    • PDF or some other immediately viewable format;
  • Documentary specifications - source format: depending on the lifecycle stage:
    • specifications source files, including Asciidoctor (.adoc) files and files generated from the UML extractor tool;
  • Computable artefacts: any recognised computable or formal artefact, including but not limited to:
    • UML model source files, found in /computable directories in specifications-XX Git repositories;
    • XSDs, JSON, REST APIs, WSDLs derived from the specifications, and maintained in the specifications-ITS-XX Git repositories;
    • code examples.

Some syntax artefacts are maintained in Git repositories with other names, including the ADL-Antlr one.

Lastly, wiki pages in the Specifications space and ADL space on the openEHR wiki site are also included in the specifications IP covered by the CC licence as described above.

3rd Party IP

Third-party IP is referenced in various ways within openEHR artefacts, primarily archetypes and templates. Such references do not generally constitute use of the 3rd-party IP as envisaged by its publishers, however use of the relevant openEHR artefacts (for example, in production health information systems) may well entail use of the referenced 3rd party IP, e.g. terminology codes. The developers of such deployments must therefore accept responsibility for ensuring legal use of relevant third party IP.

The openEHR Foundation has formal bilateral or unilateral agreements to reference the following types of IP in its published artefacts:

Acknowledgements: Atlassian (Jira, Confluence) | NoMagic (MagicDraw UML)
AsciiDoctor (publishing) | GitHub (DVCS) | LAMP dev community