This article notes that people “in the renewable energy and clean technology fields regularly need to speak with others outside their company for solutions to ongoing research and development problems.” The problem is how to protect confidentiality and company IP when engaging in such discussions. The solution lies in entering into a consulting agreement with all third parties that includes clear provisions on confidentiality and ownership of resultant IP rights. It is especially important that the innovator company own all IP in anything which results from the consultation, since that is why they are paying to consult with the third party.
Situations which give rise to these problems include speaking with academics; outside experts, technical consultants and engineering firms; equipment builders, vendors and subcontractors. The consulting agreements should be tailored to each type of consultant and the types of IP likely to be generated by each consulting relationship.
- Innovators should not seek third party advice without having the third party enter into a consulting agreement. The agreement should deal with confidentiality, non-competition and IP issues.
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