Intellectual Property

TMP signing

"This CERC framework enables a new kind of relationship, built on mutual trust, understanding, and friendship; provides for protection of background IP, agreement on ownership of IP developed under CERC, and mutual access to such rights under favorable terms and conditions; provides means for resolution of disputes; and has a governance structure that facilitates collaborative work; and encourages compliance. As a result, scientists and businesses can safely bring their best ideas to the table, the quality of the joint research is raised, and innovation is accelerated." — David Sandalow, Acting Under Secretary, DOE, at Stanford IP Conference, Feb. 26, 2013

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 US Department of Energy CERC webpage on intellectual property (IP) provides more information on CERC's unique IP framework.