Frequently Asked Questions
The OpenMTA is an easy-to-use legal tool that promotes exchange of biological materials. By removing blanket restrictions, the Open MTA aims to inspire innovation so that all people benefit from advances in biotechnology.
Who developed the OpenMTA?
The OpenMTA was developed as a collaborative effort led by the BioBricks Foundation and the OpenPlant Synthetic Biology Research Centre with input from researchers, technology transfer professionals, social scientists, lawyers, and other stakeholders from across the globe.
How does it work?
Become a signatory to the OpenMTA Master Agreement. Then all that is needed to complete a transfer is an Implementing Letter, which specifies the materials to be transferred.
Research materials such as DNA, plasmids, microorganisms, proteins, seeds, and tissue samples are covered. The exchanges can take place between individual researchers or different organizations, including transfers of research materials between non-profit and for-profit sectors.
Why use the OpenMTA (instead of no MTA at all)?
The OpenMTA provides provenance tracking and specifies terms for access, attribution, reuse, redistribution and nondiscrimination. Although a “no MTA” policy for transfers of certain materials has been adopted by some institutions, these policies typically state “if materials are transferred without a specific MTA, the transfer will be presumed to be made under the terms stated in the UBMTA even though no written agreement has been signed.” As a result, ambiguous or unnecessarily restrictive terms apply when there is no MTA in place.
Universities, research institutes, companies, community labs, funders and charities are all encouraged to sign the OpenMTA Master Agreement.
Who can sign the OpenMTA Master Agreement?
At most institutions, individual researchers are not authorized to sign MTAs on behalf of their institutions. Instead, MTAs must be reviewed and approved by an authorized institutional official. Accordingly, only individuals authorized to sign on behalf of the institution may sign the OpenMTA Master Agreement.
No, signatories to the OpenMTA may include companies, for-profit research institutions, and community laboratories as well as traditional academic and nonprofit institutions involved in biological research and transfer of materials.
Are we obligated to transfer all materials under the OpenMTA if we become a signatory?
No, becoming a signatory to the OpenMTA does not obligate an institution to make all materials available under OpenMTA terms. Instead, each institution can decide which materials they wish to make available under OpenMTA terms on a case-by- case basis.
The OpenMTA includes many of the same provisions found in other standard MTA templates. The OpenMTA differs from other standard templates only where needed to support the design goals – Access, Attribution, Reuse, Redistribution, and Non-discrimination.
|Terms of Transfer||UBMTA|
|Academic or non-profit only||Yes||No||No||No|
|Use for research and teaching||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Use for commercial purposes||No||No||Varies||Yes|
|Distribution of materials or derivatives||No||No||No||Yes|
|Fees for preparation and distribution||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fees for royalties||No||No||Varies||No|
|Compliance with laws and regulations||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ease of use internationally||No||Yes||Varies||Yes|
|No warranty (e.g. third party rights)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Recipient assumes liability||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Recipient indemnifies Provider||No||No||Varies||No|
Yes, the OpenMTA allows reimbursement of costs involved in preparing and distributing materials.
Signatories are not obligated to use the OpenMTA for all transfers. Instead, individuals and organizations retain discretion in deciding which materials to transfer under OpenMTA terms so they may honor existing agreements that are already in place.