Intellectual Property Management:

Model Agreements

Sample Contract Research Agreement

By: Dr. Frederic Erbisch, Director (Retired), Office of Intellectual Property, Michigan State University, United Stated, e-mail :

THIS AGREEMENT is effective this _____ day of _____________, 20__ by and between the _____________ , with an office at _______________________ (hereinafter "Recipient") and ___________________ with an office at ________________________ (hereinafter "Sponsor”).

WHEREAS, the parties desire to conduct certain research programs of mutual interest to the parties; and

WHEREAS, such research programs may further the research objectives of Sponsor in a manner consistent with its status as a ______________ institution, and may derive benefits for both Recipient and Sponsor through inventions, improvements or discoveries;

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises and mutual covenants herein contained, the parties hereto agree to the following:



As used herein, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

1.1    "Project" shall mean a project described in a fully executed Project Proposal.

1.2    “Project Proposal” shall mean a research proposal which is attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference.

1.3    "Contract Period" will be the period, beginning _________________, 20__  through ______________, 20__, renewable in accordance with the terms hereof, unless earlier terminated pursuant to this Agreement.

1.4    "Sponsor Intellectual Property" shall mean individually and collectively all inventions, improvements or discoveries, whether or not patentable or copyrightable, which are conceived or made solely by one or more employees of Sponsor in performance of the Project during the Contract Period.

1.5    “Joint Intellectual Property" shall mean individually and collectively all inventions, improvements and discoveries, whether or not patentable or copyrightable, which are conceived and reduced to practice jointly by one or more employees of each Party during the term of this Agreement.

1.6    "Recipient Intellectual Property" shall mean individually and collectively all inventions, improvements or discoveries, whether or not patentable or copyrightable, which are conceived or made solely by one or more employees of Recipient in performance of the Project during the Contract Period.


2.1    Recipient shall perform each Project in accordance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

2.2    In the event that the applicable Project Director ceases to direct the associated Project and a mutually acceptable substitute is not found within 80 days of such cessation, either Recipient or Sponsor shall have the option to terminate said Project.


3.1    Written program reports describing the results of the applicable Project to date and information regarding the current status and future activities to be undertaken as part of such Project shall be provided by Recipient to Sponsor as required by the applicable Project Proposal, provided that such reports shall in no event be delivered less frequently than quarterly.

3.2    During the term of this Agreement, representatives of Recipient may meet with representatives of Sponsor at times and places mutually agreed upon to discuss the progress and results as well as ongoing plans, or changes therein, of each Project.

3.3    During the term of this Agreement, Recipient agrees to permit representatives of Sponsor to examine at any reasonable time during normal business hours

(i)   the facilities where the Project is being conducted,

(ii)  associated raw research data, and

(iii) any other relevant information (and to make copies) necessary for the Sponsor to confirm that such Projects are being conducted in conformance with the applicable Project Proposal and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.



4.1    It is agreed that total costs to Sponsor for any Project hereunder shall not exceed the sum set forth in the applicable Project Proposal. Payment shall be made by Sponsor within thirty (30) days of receipt of monthly invoices for actual charges incurred by the Recipient in performance of the applicable Project provided that Recipient is not in breach of this Agreement.

4.2    Recipient shall retain title to any equipment necessary for the conduct of a Project, purchased pursuant to a signed Project Proposal with funds provided by Sponsor under this Agreement.

4.3    In the event of early termination of this Agreement by Sponsor pursuant to this Agreement other than for breach of this Agreement, Sponsor shall pay all costs accrued by Recipient as of the date of termination, including but not limited to reasonable non-cancellable obligations incurred prior to the effective date of termination made pursuant to a fully executed Project Proposal. Project Proposal shall set forth a budget for travel and other out-of-pocket expenses to be incurred pursuant to the applicable Project.


Sponsor will not use the name of Recipient, nor of any member of Recipient's Project staff, in any publicity, marketing, advertising or news release without the prior written approval of an authorized representative of Recipient. Recipient will not use the name of Sponsor, nor any employee of Sponsor, in any publicity, advertising or news release without the prior written approval of Sponsor. Nothing herein shall restrict the Recipient's or Sponsor's right to disclose the existence of this Agreement, the identity of the parties, and the nature and scope of the Project.


Sponsor recognizes that the results of a Project achieved by Recipient may be publishable and agrees that researchers at Recipient engaged in the Project shall be permitted to present at symposia, national, or regional professional meetings, and to publish in journals, or otherwise of their own choosing, methods and results of such Project, provided, however, that Sponsor shall have been furnished copies of any proposed publication or presentation at least one month in advance of the submission of such proposed publication or presentation to a journal, editor, or other third party. Sponsor shall have one month after receipt of said copies, to object to such proposed presentation or proposed publication because there is patentable subject matter which needs protection or there is proprietary confidential information of Sponsor in such publication or presentation. In the event that Sponsor makes such objection, said researcher(s) shall refrain from making such publication or presentation for a maximum of four months from date of receipt of such objection in order for Recipient to file patent application(s) directed to the patentable subject matter contained in the proposed publication or presentation. It is understood that the Sponsor may wish to be credited in the publication or publish with the Recipient, as it is appropriate. No such publication shall contain any confidential information of Sponsor, or any results of any Project obtained by Sponsor other than from the Recipient.


7.1    Inventorship shall be determined under _________ patent laws.

7.2    All rights and title to Recipient Intellectual Property created pursuant to the Project shall belong to Recipient and shall be subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

7.3    All rights and title to Joint Intellectual Property created pursuant to a Project shall belong jointly to Sponsor and Recipient and shall be subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

7.4    Rights to inventions, improvements and discoveries, whether or not patentable or copyrightable, relating to a Project made solely by employees of Sponsor shall belong to Sponsor. Such inventions, improvements, and discoveries shall not be subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

7.5    Recipient will promptly notify Sponsor of any Recipient Intellectual Property. If Sponsor directs Recipient to file a patent application hereunder or desires to maintain its right to exercise either option (a) or (b) of Section 8.2 below, Sponsor shall retain an independent law firm reasonably acceptable to Recipient to promptly prepare, file and prosecute such patent  applications in Recipient's name and shall bear all costs incurred in connection with such preparation, filing, prosecution, and maintenance of patent application(s) for as long as Sponsor retains or exercises its option rights under Section 8. Sponsor and Recipient shall cooperate to assure that such application(s) will cover, to the best of Sponsor's knowledge, all items of commercial interest and importance. While Sponsor shall be responsible for making the day to day decisions regarding the prosecution of such patent applications, the parties must mutually agree on all material decisions regarding the scope and content of application(s) to be filed and prosecution thereof. Sponsor shall promptly supply to Recipient, at Recipient’s request, copies of all papers received and filed in connection with the prosecution thereof in sufficient time for Recipient to comment thereon.

7.6    Each party will promptly notify the other when Joint Intellectual Property is created. Sponsor shall have the right, at its option and expense, and through patent attorneys or agents of its choice, to make all decisions with respect to, and to otherwise control the preparation, filing and prosecution (including any proceedings relating to reissues, reexaminations, protests, interferences, and requests for patent extensions or supplementary protection certificates) of any patent application with respect to any Joint Intellectual Property and to maintain any patents issuing therefrom.

7.7    Sponsor shall ensure that patent attorneys or agents are able and agree not to take any action which would discriminate in favor of Sponsor’s interest in Recipient Intellectual Property or Joint Intellectual Property to the detriment of Recipient’s interests in Recipient Intellectual Property and Joint Intellectual Property in all patent decisions and actions taken pursuant to sections 7.5 and 7.6 above. Sponsor shall not retain patent attorneys or agents if such representatives pose a conflict of interest with respect to the Recipient’s rights in Recipient Intellectual Property and Joint Intellectual Property.

7.8    If Sponsor elects not to exercise its option as described in Section 8.2 below or either party decides to discontinue or refrain from providing the financial support for the prosecution or maintenance of patents or patent applications claiming Recipient Intellectual Property or Joint Intellectual Property, such party shall be deemed to have irrevocably assigned its rights in such patents and patent applications to the other party and such other party shall be free to file or continue prosecution or maintain any such application(s) and to maintain any protection issuing thereon in the __________ (country) and in any foreign country at such other party’s sole expense and all rights in the applicable patent or patent applications shall be transferred to such other party.


8.1    Recipient hereby grants Sponsor a royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use Recipient Intellectual Property within its own organization.

8.2    Recipient hereby grants to Sponsor, an exclusive option at Sponsor's sole election, to negotiate for either (a) a non-exclusive, royalty-bearing license to use Recipient Intellectual Property for any purpose, or (b) an exclusive royalty-bearing license with a right to sublicense to Recipient Intellectual Property or (c) an exclusive license to Recipient’s interest in any Joint Intellectual Property. Terms and conditions of these licenses are to be negotiated in good faith and agreed upon between Recipient and Sponsor. Sponsor shall notify Recipient by written notice within 180 days of (I) receiving Recipient’s written notice of the generation of a Recipient Intellectual Property, or (II) in the case of Joint Intellectual Property, agreement of the parties as to the generation of Joint Intellectual Property, whether Sponsor elects to exercise the Option. If Sponsor either (i) elects not to exercise its option or (ii) fails to provide written notice within such 180 day period, then Sponsor shall automatically be deemed to have relinquished any rights it may have to any license described in this Section. If Sponsor provides Recipient written notice of its exercise of the Option, the parties shall exclusively negotiate in good faith, for a period of 180 days, a license to the applicable Recipient Intellectual Property or Joint Intellectual Property on terms consistent with the terms of this paragraph. If, after good faith negotiations, no agreement is reached by the parties within such 180 day period, Recipient shall be free to enter into a license with any third party for any Recipient Intellectual Property subject to Sponsor’s use right in Section 8.1 and to license its rights in such Joint Intellectual Property.

8.3    In the event that Sponsor acquires an exclusive license or right under subsections 8.2 of this Article, the Recipient will retain the right to continue to use any Recipient Intellectual Property and Joint Intellectual Property within the Recipient for research purposes.


9.1    During discussions leading up to this Agreement, and during the course of performing the Project, it is anticipated that Recipient and Sponsor will learn confidential and/or proprietary information of the other. Parties will keep confidential, and not use, except in connection with the performance of the sponsored research hereunder, any information which is provided in writing and marked as confidential by either party, or if disclosed orally, described in a writing within 30 days after disclosure, including without limitation any information which relates to sponsored research to be performed under this Agreement, any information which either party may acquire with respect to the other party’s business, and any information relating to new products, customers, pricing, know-how, processes, and practices, ("Confidential Information.") The obligations of confidentiality and non-use of Confidential Information shall survive the termination or expiration of this Agreement for a period of five years, unless or until:

(a) such information shall become known to third parties or shall become publicly known through no fault of Recipient, or

(b) such information was already in a party’s possession, as evidenced by written documentation prior to the disclosure of such information to the informing party, or

(c) such information shall be subsequently disclosed to either party on a non-confidential basis by a third party who, to the best of the receiving party’s knowledge, is not under any obligation of confidentiality.

(d) such information is specifically authorized by the informing party, in writing, to be disclosed.

(e) such information is required to be disclosed by applicable law or order of a court of competent jurisdiction in which case the disclosing party agrees to notify  the other party of such requirement so that party may take steps to narrow or avoid disclosure.


10.1  This Agreement shall become effective upon the date first written above and shall continue in effect for the full duration of the Contract Period. Thereafter, the term of this Agreement shall automatically renew for successive one year periods unless either party provides prior written notice to the other party of its desire not to renew the term hereof, which notice must be given at least 60 days prior to the then current term of this Agreement. Company may terminate this Agreement or any Project upon 60 days prior written notice at any time within the contract period.

10.2  In the event that either party commits any breach of or default in any of the terms or conditions of this Agreement, and fails to remedy such default or breach within thirty days after receipt of written notice thereof from the other party, the party giving notice may, at its option and in addition to any other remedies which it may have at law or in equity, terminate this Agreement by sending notice of termination in writing to the other party. Such termination shall be effective as of the date of the receipt of such notice.

10.3 No termination of this Agreement, however effectuated, shall release the parties from their rights and obligations accrued prior to the effective date of termination.

10.4  Upon termination of this Agreement or any Project, other than for breach of the terms hereof,, Sponsor shall reimburse Recipient for any amounts Sponsor is otherwise obligated to provide Recipient under the terms hereof, for work on each terminated Project performed by Recipient up to the effective date of termination and for non-cancellable pre-paid expenses reasonably incurred by Recipient in anticipation of its work on each Project.


11.1  Recipient shall be deemed to be and shall be an independent contractor and as such Recipient shall not be entitled to any benefits applicable to employees of Sponsor.

11.2  The parties acknowledges that neither of their employees are employees of the other party and that employees of one party are not eligible to participate in any employee benefit plans of the other party. The parties further acknowledge that neither party nor any of its employees are eligible to participate in any such benefit plans even if it is later determined that any of its employees’ status during the period of this Agreement was that of an employee of the other party. In addition, the parties waive any claims that they may have under the terms of any such benefit plans or under any law for participation in or benefits under any of the other party’s  benefit plans.

11.3  Neither party is authorized or empowered to act as agent for the other for any purpose and shall not on behalf of the other enter into any contract, warranty or representation as to any matter. Neither shall be bound by the acts or conduct of the other.


12.1  Recipient warrants and represents that Recipient has adequate liability insurance in amounts not less than ___________________ and workers compensation insurance of statutory levels, such protection being applicable to officers, employees, and agents while acting within the scope of their employment by Recipient. Recipient has no liability insurance policy as such that can extend protection to any other person.

12.2  Each party hereby assumes any and all risks of personal injury and property damage attributable to the negligent acts or omissions of that party and the officers, employees, and agents thereof.


This Agreement shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of __________________________ and shall be constructed under the laws of __________.


14.1   Except as provided in Article 14.2, this Agreement shall not be assigned by either party without the prior written consent of the parties hereto.

14.2   This Agreement is not assignable by either party to this Agreement


Any agreement to change the terms of this Agreement in any way shall be valid only if the change is made in writing and approved by mutual agreement of authorized representatives of the parties hereto.


Notices hereunder shall be deemed made if given by registered or certified mail, postage prepaid, and addressed to the party to receive such notice at the address given below, or such other address as may hereafter be designated by notice in writing.

If to Sponsor:

With a copy to:

If to Recipient:

With a copy to:



This Agreement may be executed in any number of counterparts, each of which shall be deemed to be an original and all of which together shall be deemed to be one and the same instrument. All headings in this Agreement are inserted for convenience of reference only and shall not affect its meaning or interpretation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have caused this Agreement to be executed by their duly authorized representatives as of the date first above written.



Sponsor ________________________                                Recipient ________________________

By_____________________________                                By______________________________

_______________________________                                 ________________________________

Typed Name                                                                     Typed Name

 _______________________________                                ________________________________

Title                                                                                  Title