The NIH considers the sharing of research tools to be so important for future research advances that the agency has issued strict guidelines on the appropriate conditions for the transfer of research material that contributes to or results from NIH-funded research.1 Similarly, the NSF has issued guidelines for the dissemination of data and materials and requires researchers to: the timing, constraints and means of publishing documents developed specifically for programs (such as the Plant Genome Research Program) that focus on generating research resources and tools.2 Principal investigators are required to respond to TMJ requests with a completed TMJ questionnaire and the appropriate agreement (preferably in Word format to allow processing if necessary) to firstname.lastname@example.org. If an MTA is only available in paper form, it should be sent to the research office with the completed questionnaire: Level 5, Sherfield Building, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ. Materiel transfer agreements exist to facilitate the exchange of documents and related data between researchers and to protect the interests of researchers and their institutions. However, this dual mandate can be a source of frustration for researchers, creating administrative burdens and slowing down collaboration. We argue here that, in most cases, in pre-competitive research, a simple agreement would suffice; More complex arrangements and mechanisms for their negotiation should be reserved for cases where the risks to the establishment and potential commercial value of search reagents are high. An MTA almost always states that the hardware has no warranty. A typical warranty clause, usually written in capital letters, may be: Research staff and students typically do not have the knowledge and legal authority to enter into contracts such as MTAs on behalf of their institutions. To address this lack of capacity, most institutions have offices with dedicated staff who negotiate, design and execute ATMs [2,5]. This centralization of contractual services in a technology transfer office or research services is problematic because it can lead not only to delays, but also to conflicts between the interests of researchers and those of their institutions. Researchers often express frustration with institutional processes . Surveys and studies conducted through interviews with researchers have concluded that access to research reagents is hampered by negotiations on ATMs, the complexity of which rarely reflects the value of the documents to be shared with the institution [7-9]. There is a cultural gap between research communities, which may simply want to share their data and documents, and institutional contracts or technology transfer staff. The latter are in a difficult position to fulfil two mandates: firstly, to commercialise research in their institution in order to obtain a financial return and, secondly, to promote the desired exchange of materials and data at Community level [10-12].
1. This MTA shall apply to materials transferred before the entry into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The contract provides that the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) will enter into an agreement with the governing body of the contract as soon as the contract comes into force. The Africa Rice Center (WARDA) has announced its intention to enter into such an agreement with the Board of Directors. This agreement will provide for new MTAs and benefit-sharing agreements for materials transferred after the date of entry into force of the agreement, in accordance with the agreement. The recipient is informed that the details of the ATM, including the identity of the recipient, will be made available to the public. The standard MTA used by the University of California`s Davis Campus (Box 4 [see end of chapter]) represents an MTA that one university would use to provide material to another university. An ATM, regardless of its length and complexity, can include many, if not all, of the following: In most institutions, researchers themselves are not allowed to sign outgoing or incoming ATMs for their institutions. MTAs must be reviewed and approved by an authorized representative of the facility.
Agreements that are not signed by a representative of the institution may not be valid or enforceable. These functions are usually located in the Office of Research Administration (sponsored programs) or the office that manages IP and technology transfer for the institution. Since the researcher using the material(s) is ultimately responsible for fulfilling the obligations of the ATM, most MTAs require the signature of the recipient of the material, who acknowledges their acknowledgement of their responsibilities and obligations under the agreement. 3 The draft agreements at the end of this chapter can also be downloaded free of charge under www.ipHandbook.org. An Adobe® Acrobat® Reader or Microsoft® Word® is required. The website also includes many examples of additional intellectual property agreements. The exchange of material between university researchers is the least problematic, mainly because the cultures and motivations of each institution involved in the exchange are similar. Given that the vast majority of academic research is funded by relatively few federal organizations, the policies associated with their grant also have a strong impact on how research results are disseminated and shared. Most universities transfer material for academic research purposes under conditions that generally have no restrictions other than the restriction of not transferring the material to third parties without permission or notice. These transfers are often made using the NIH-backed Uniform Biological MTA (ott.od.nih.gov/newpages/UBMTA.pdf) or an equivalent benign agreement. If there is a problem with a transfer between academic institutions, it is usually because the material has been licensed exclusively and the terms of this agreement impose certain restrictions on the provider institution. However, this is usually preventable.
For example, even for patented materials licensed for commercial development, the University of California states in its licensing agreements that it reserves the right to use the materials for internal research purposes and to transfer the materials to other academic institutions for research. The supplier of the materials should generally be granted a limited subset of intellectual property rights. To the extent that the beneficiary is legally able to do so, it could, for example, grant a royalty-free, non-exclusive research license for inventions that necessarily use or necessarily contain and conceptualize the material and that are initially reduced to practice in carrying out the research. In many cases, the recipient may grant an initial right or option to negotiate a non-exclusive or exclusive commercial license for these inventions. In some cases, where a supplier supplies innovative and valuable compounds, a recipient may be required to grant a non-exclusive, royalty-free research licence for such inventions if it fears being prevented from making new uses of its materials, in particular if it conducts or sponsors similar research. 2. This shall not prevent recipients from releasing the material to make it directly available to farmers or consumers for cultivation, provided that the other conditions set out in this ATM are met. .