Licensing and the Art of Preventive Negotiation: Minimizing Unintended Consequences
The art of preventive negotiation in a license agreement is not practiced solely by means of pen and paper (or word processor); but instead, starts much earlier. The care and attention devoted to the earliest stages of a deal are highly worthwhile. A friend and fellow LES member is fond of saying: “No deal without a meal.” This is emblematic of the fact that a license agreement is no more than an attempt to put in writing what the parties have agreed they are desirous of achieving, and how they propose allocating rights and responsibilities to achieve those ends. Trust is an essential component, and this is built up over time… The term sheet should be focused only on the major terms of consequence. It should not descend to tactics and operations or else it runs the risk of invading the rightful province of detailed negotiation and drafting of the agreement itself, and a needless redundancy. Tactical details are for later, when the investment is clearly justified. Likewise, premature focus on the tactical raises the risk that negotiation of the ultimate agreement becomes a rehash of the term sheet, which risks not only duplication of effort, but inconsistency, misunderstanding, and deviation from the strategic objectives underlying the alliance.