Business

Licence agreements

What is a licence?

A licence is a permission granted by the owner of IP that allows another party to act under all or some of the owner’s rights, usually under a written licence agreement.

What is a licence agreement?

Licence agreements describe the rights and responsibilities related to the use and exploitation of IP. Queen’s licence agreements usually stipulate that the licensee should act diligently to bring the intellectual property into commercial use for the public good and provide a reasonable return to the University.

How is a company chosen to be a licensee?

A licensee is chosen based on its ability to commercialise the technology. Sometimes an established business with experience in similar technologies and markets is the best choice. In other cases, the formation and development of a start-up is a better option.

What can I expect to gain if my invention is licensed?

A share of the net income from a licence is returned  to the inventor(s) but inventors also gain the satisfaction of knowing that their inventions are having a direct impact to society. New and enhanced relationships with businesses also augment a faculty member’s teaching, research, and consulting activities.

What is the relationship between an inventor and a licensee, and how much of my time will it require?
Many licensees will be more successful in their commercialisation efforts if the inventor is actively involved. This can range from infrequent, informal contacts to a more formal consulting relationship. Working with a new start-up business can require substantially more time, depending on your role within the company and your continuing role within the University.

What other types of agreements and considerations apply to commercialisation?

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), also known as Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDAs), are often used to protect the confidentiality of an invention during its assessment by potential licensees. NDAs also protect proprietary information of third parties which University researchers need to review in order to conduct research or evaluate research opportunities. We enter into NDAs for University proprietary information shared with someone outside the University. Depending on the circumstance, the Commercial Development team can give guidance on incoming NDAs related to research contracts.

Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) are used for incoming and outgoing materials at the University. These agreements describe the terms under which University researchers and outside researchers may share materials, typically for research or evaluation purposes. Queen’s does not require or encourage the use of an MTA when you are giving non-human, biological material to be used for in vitro research purposes to your research colleagues.

Inter-Institutional Agreements (IIAs) describe the terms under which two or more institutions (e.g., two universities) will cooperate to assess, protect, market, license, and share in the royalties received from licensing jointly-owned intellectual property.

Option Agreements, or Option Clauses within research agreements, describe the conditions under which the University reserves a right for a third party to negotiate a licence for IP. Option clauses are often provided in a Collaborative Research Agreement. Option Agreements are entered into with third parties wishing to assess the technology for a fixed period prior to entering into a full licence agreement.