What are IP agreements?
Just like any other form of property, access to intellectual property (IP) can be controlled by its owner. IP agreements are the legal mechanism by which access to IP is granted. These agreements often include provisions for payment in exchange for access to IP, which can be hugely valuable to a business. Other important provisions often included in IP agreements relate to the confidential nature of the IP, ownership or other access rights to existing IP, and where new IP is generated, who will own that new IP.
Types of IP agreements
Assignments are used when IP is bought and sold and are used to transfer the IP rights to the new owner.
Licences are used when the original owner wants to retain ownership, but also wants to grant permission for another party to use their IP. Licences may be granted on an exclusive basis (meaning that a single licence is granted), or a non-exclusive basis (to multiple licensees). Licences may be limited in terms of geographic scope, field of use, or in other ways if all parties agree.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are used when the IP owner wants to share information in confidence, e.g. with potential investors or collaborators.
Material transfer agreements (MTAs) are similar to NDAs, but relate to the transfer of physical material, not just information.
Research & development agreements (RDAs) are used when a business seeks to obtain new knowledge and technology from outside sources. Usually, RDAs include provisions for ownership of any IP resulting from the R&D to be assigned to the business.
We understand that for smaller businesses, IP may be the main commercial asset, so we will work with you to ensure your IP agreements are drafted to maximise value and to control access in a way that supports your plans for growth.