Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Our framework provides for protection of background intellectual property (IP) and agreement on ownership of IP developed under CERC, facilitating collaboration.


CERC was formally established between the U.S. Department of Energy and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology in November, 2009. The Technology Management Plan (TMP) was signed in September, 2011 by U.S. and Chinese officials. It protects American and Chinese researchers and partners by ensuring their intellectual property rights for the technology they create and contribute. To ensure legal enforceability, the corresponding government ministries formally agreed to and endorsed the TMP.

The framework enables research partners to share information with confidence and to retain appropriate rights for new technologies they create. IP rights are guaranteed in each territory, and IP terms and conditions may be negotiated. Where IP is created in a jointly funded research project, the project's participants in both countries have the right to obtain a non-exclusive license to the IP.

Key provisions of the TMP include the following:

  • A clear understanding of IP principles and administrative procedures before work begins
  • Enhanced protection for IP rights with endorsements by both governments
  • A requirement to share the benefits of joint research
  • Means for negotiating terms and conditions
  • Pathways for dispute resolution

The Researcher's Guide to Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer provides a broad overview of the technology transfer process generally, with additional pointers and reminders specific to fulfilling CERC objectives, including that of commercial development of inventions that result from CERC research projects.