Whenever research material is exchanged between Yale and other institutions or companies, a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is needed. This is a critical agreement that allows the sharing of potentially valuable material for research or possible commercial use. MTAs protect intellectual property rights, limit liabilities and ensure scientists are properly credited for their work. Even in the casual exchange of material with colleagues outside of Yale, it is important that an MTA be in place. There are instances of material exchange where an MTA would have allowed us to avoid protracted costly disputes.
Yale Grants and Contracts handles drafting and signing MTAs between Yale and other academic institutions, or when material is being received from a company. When material is to be sent to a company, OCR negotiates an MTA with the company for access to the material, and the company will usually be required to pay for the material. Only certain individuals in Grants and Contracts and OCR are authorized to sign MTAs.
Yale Policy on Incoming Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)
The Grants and Contracts office (“G&C”) is the office designated by Yale University (“Yale”) to review all academic MTAs and all commercial MTAs for incoming material, and to obtain the authorized signature on behalf of Yale for agreements that are acceptable under Yale’s policies and consistent with Yale’s academic mission. G&C strives to review MTAs in a timely fashion to minimize any potential delays in research involving the requested materials or information. MTAs are reviewed by G&C (sometimes in consultation with the Office of Cooperative Research (“OCR”) and are then signed by an authorized University official to protect certain interests of Yale and its faculty. It is important that faculty investigators also review MTAs to make sure that they personally agree to comply with the terms and that the terms of the MTA are consistent with the objectives of their research.
The single most significant delay in finalizing these agreements is in negotiating acceptable terms with companies, and in some cases with other universities. While the majority of MTAs require little negotiation, the ones that do require negotiation, often involve material or information that is being transferred from entities outside the university to Yale’s faculty. In particular, the majority of negotiations involve a company’s desire to own intellectual property and to control publications related to their Material. Yale needs to preserve freedom to publish in a timely manner and seeks to retain rights to Yale inventions until the providing company or an alternative entity takes license and commits to actively commercialize them. Without these rights, Yale would lose its ability to ensure Yale inventions reach the marketplace and benefit society. The following guidelines are used by G&C to review agreements and are provided so that both Yale faculty and the providers of material can understand Yale’s position on certain terms typically included in MTAs.