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UK agencies create template NDA to encourage research collaboration with China

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 22nd, 2017

Three UK agencies have developed a template non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to encourage universities and businesses in the country to collaborate with organizations in China on research and technology licensing.

Drafted in both English and Mandarin, the NDA is meant to facilitate the sharing of intellectual property and can be adapted to the needs of individual organizations.

“Possible applications of the NDA include early-stage meetings when forming a consortium to bid for joint research funding, negotiating a formal consortium agreement or negotiating a technology transfer or license agreement,” reads a statement from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which drafted the NDA in conjunction with Beijing-based UK Intellectual Property Attaché to China and UK Science and Innovation Network in China.

According to Tim Moss, CEO of the UK IPO, the template NDA provides “equal protection to all parties, whether from the UK or China, and provides legal certainty so partners can engage with confidence.”

Organizations wishing to execute an NDA will be able to choose from one of two dispute resolution clauses. One envisages disputes being settled through the Chinese courts without arbitration, and the other offers dispute resolution through arbitration.

Some observers have doubts about the document’s uptake.

“The issue for companies deciding if it would be a good idea to use the NDA will depend on whether they have sufficient bargaining position to have a dispute decided by the UK court,” says IP attorney Iain Connor. “Companies will be wary of having to litigate in China despite China’s relatively good record supporting foreign parties in its court. Therefore, despite the good intentions behind the initiative, the bigger players will almost certainly adopt bespoke solutions.”


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