Getting ready to collaborate
Here's a quick video that explains what you need to know before entering into a collaboration.
Intellectual property and collaboration - are you ready?
Consider your IP protection, ownership and use throughout the collaboration life cycle —before, during, ongoing.
Before entering into a collaboration consider:
- Are you contributing your own IP? (background IP)
- Is your background IP protected?
- What protection do you need?
During collaboration: Managing co-created IP
Set expectations early regarding ownership and use of IP.
- Open source.
As you commercialise your IP, how will you manage your IP?
- As an intangible asset
- Infringement and enforcement
- Engage an IP professional.
Want to know more?
Visit IP Australia
We're the Australian Government agency that administers intellectual property (IP) rights and legislation for patents, trade marks, design rights and plant breeder's rights (PBR).
Researcher and business collaborations with universities
The Higher Education Research Commercialisation (HERC) Intellectual Property (IP) Framework (the Framework) helps businesses and industry to collaborate with universities on research and commercial projects.
Collaborations involving IP can be complex. The Framework supports businesses by providing:
- Information about IP in university-industry collaborative research
- Templates to assist in the negotiation process.
For small businesses that want to collaborate, the IP toolkit is simple and easy to understand.
How can I protect my IP?
Before you try to commercialise your idea, you should consider whether you need to file for IP protection.
We administer IP rights for:
You can also get IP protection without registration for copyright and circuit layouts.
In the meantime, you can ensure that sensitive information remains confidential with a non-disclosure agreement.
How can I commercialise my IP?
If you're looking to commercialise your idea, you can:
- Speak to your university or research organisation's technology transfer office for advice
- Consider your commercialisation pathways. You may want to sell or license IP, create a business or collaborate with an industry partner
- Explore Australian Government programs that support researchers on their commercialisation journey, such as Main Sequence Ventures (CSIRO Innovation Fund).
Where can I find a collaboration partner?
The following online resources can help you find a collaboration partner:
- Easy Access IP offers businesses free access to IP from Australian universities
- Industry growth centres can support your collaboration
- University technology transfer offices
- Research organisations.
How do I define the terms of my collaboration?
To define the terms of your collaboration, you can use a model term sheet. It can help you to:
- Define your project
- Outline the basic terms and conditions of your collaboration
- Engage with internal policies, processes and approval mechanisms
- Negotiate with collaborators.
How do I draft a contract or non-disclosure agreement?
You can use the information on your term sheet to draft your final contract, using either a model contract or mini contract for this purpose.
A non-disclosure agreement, or confidentiality agreement, is a legal contract used to protect sensitive information that needs to be shared with others. To help you get started, we've developed a free tool to help you create your own NDA.
Seek professional advice
While our model and mini contracts are a good starting point, we strongly recommend you seek legal advice before entering into an agreement.
What to consider during collaborations
Before you get started, you'll need to consider what both parties are bringing to the collaboration and how you'll manage existing or new IP.
In some instances, issues may arise when existing IP is built upon during the collaboration. Background IP usually refers to existing IP that belongs to one of the parties, while third party IP belongs to a party that's external to the collaboration.
As such, issues that may impact your collaboration include:
- Whether it requires any background or third party IP
- Whether you'll develop new IP
- How to manage ownership and licensing rights.
Use the collaborations checklist or the mini collaborations checklist to help you manage these issues.
The Australian Government offers a range of support for researcher and business collaborations. This includes:
- Information and advice
- Where to apply for grants and financial help
- Links to different advisory services.