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What is a collaboration agreement?

A Collaboration agreement is an agreement between at least two parties looking to work together on a commercial project on a collaborative or cooperative basis. The agreement spells out the specific terms and conditions of the parties' working relationship including the allocation of responsibilities and division of revenues derived from the exploitation of the work.

Why do you need a collaboration agreement?

A collaboration agreement helps to avoid uncertainties with your collaborator down the line, by clarifying the nature and scope of your relationship. Without a signed collaboration agreement in place, questions may be raised about the ownership and control of the works jointly created, as well as the ability to dispose of any rights in the work. It is also vital in determining what happens in the event that the collaborators separate for any reason.

What do collaboration agreements typically cover?

Terms and conditions

Collaboration agreements contain terms and conditions governing the relationship of the collaborators, eg by determining the:

  • focus of the collaboration, ie its overall goal. The focus of the collaboration may be, for example, for the parties to contribute expertise and know-how with respect to the design and development of certain software.
  • extent of the collaboration between the parties. The terms and conditions of a collaboration agreement will apply when either party wishes to propose to the other a project that falls within its focus. It will be up to the parties to decide whether the proposal materialises into a project.

Once the parties decide to formalise a proposal into a project, they can submit a project schedule.

Project schedule

A project schedule can be entered into once the parties agree that a proposal can be formalised. Such a schedule won't have any effect under the collaboration agreement (and form part of it) until it is agreed upon and signed by all of the parties. The project schedule will usually contain:

  • a description of the project, ie what it will involve. Each party's contribution to the project, eg services, resources, manpower or other tangibles.
  • any fees charged in relation to the project that one party must pay to the other.

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