Trust is good, Protection is better - Non-disclosure, material and data transfer

Online Archiv

Empa, Thun


In your research you often share results, data, source codes, information or materials with your colleagues in other institutions or in industry. You need to tell the recip-ient what he/she is allowed to do with these data and if there are any restrictions. Such obligations need to be written down in an agreement in order to make everyone aware of its rights and obligations and to hold them accountable in a legally binding way.

When establishing a contact and during the subsequent planning and implementation of projects with industry or research institutions, it is often necessary to exchange important unpublished information: new research results, business plans, chemical structures or inventions. In order to ensure that the receiving parties do not use this infor-mation for their own purposes or disclose it to third par-ties or to the public, a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) should always be signed.

The transfer of materials such as bacterial strains, cells or plasmids, textile samples or chemical substances for research or evaluation purposes requires that the recipients adhere to certain rules defined by the owner of the materials. For example: no commercial use, no transfer to others, reporting of the results, and acknowledgement of the owner in any ensuing publication. Such rules are fixed in a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA).

A Data Use Agreement (DUA) governs the sharing of a data set (e.g. health data, consumer data, data from Empa’s ehub) between nonprofit organizations, government or private industry. A DUA establishes the ways, in which the information in the data set may be used by the recipient as well as publication policy and privacy rights.


Target Audience

This workshop aims at all employees of Empa and Eawag. This workshop is not eligible for Credit Points.



– To know when and why MTAs, NDAs and DUAs are important for my work and for my institution and to learn how to establish such agreements

– To know my rights and obligations after any such agreement is signed

– To be aware of typical issues and pitfalls