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

Official specifications of the Foundation, including source form and published form (see below for details). Primarily maintained in the openEHR Github specifications-XX Git repositories.

openEHR Foundation

Creative Commons Licence 

Creative Commons CC-BY-ND (Attribution, No derivatives)


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.

Wiki pages in the openEHR wiki Specifications space and ADL space.

openEHR Foundation


Creative Commons CC-BY-SA, for derived archatypes and templates only.

Clinical Models

Archetypes and Terminology subsets developed by the community.

These models are available in the openEHR International Clinical Knowledge Manager (CKM).

openEHR Foundation


Creative Commons CC-BY (Attribution).

  Specialised archetypes and templates. openEHR Foundation


Creative Commons CC-BY-SA,


Software with IP rights ascribed to the openEHR Foundation.

Most software found at GitHub/openEHR.

openEHR Foundation, or original authoring organisation

Apache 2 License, with some exceptions.

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.

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:

The Licences


The use of the CC-BY-ND license allows for public sharing, republishing, and unencumbered commercial use. It protects users of the specifications from unknown and/or local modifications, tampering etc being made outside of the Foundation's own open processes. This is the same thing that W3C does with its document license.

The CC 'SA' (Share-alike) option was also considered, but rejected for two reasons. Firstly the openEHR Specifications are considered definitive works of the Foundation, not interpretations of anything else. Their contents and evolution therefore accurately and correctly reflect the processes of the openEHR community itself. Secondly, the integrity of specifications on which healthcare software and systems are directly based is considered of paramount importance to patients and clinical professionals.