Material Transfer Agreement Meaning

Material transfer agreement meaning: All you need to know

A Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a legal document that governs the transfer of tangible research materials between two parties. It is a legal agreement between the provider of the material and the recipient, outlining the terms and conditions of the transfer, including the permitted use of the material.

MTAs are typically used by academic and research institutions, government agencies, and pharmaceutical companies to transfer biological or chemical materials, data, software, and other research materials. The agreement ensures that the recipient can use the material for the intended purpose without infringing on any intellectual property rights of the provider.

What does a Material Transfer Agreement include?

An MTA typically includes the following sections:

– Identification of the provider and recipient: The agreement includes the full names and contact information of the provider and the recipient.

– Description of the material: The agreement should describe the material being transferred in detail, including its quantity, specifications, and characteristics.

– Permitting terms: The MTA outlines the purpose for which the recipient can use the material, including limitations and restrictions. Often MTAs include prohibitions against the commercialization of any results generated from the use of the provided material.

– Intellectual property rights: The MTA clarifies the ownership and rights associated with the material and any related intellectual property. This is especially important when transferring biological or chemical materials that may be patented.

– Confidentiality: The MTA includes provisions that protect confidential information such as trade secrets or proprietary data.

– End of use: The agreement specifies what will happen to the material at the end of its use and how it should be disposed of.

Why are Material Transfer Agreements important?

MTAs are important for several reasons:

– Protecting intellectual property: By outlining the ownership and rights associated with the material being transferred, MTAs protect the intellectual property of both the provider and the recipient.

– Controlling the use of the material: MTAs can limit the use of the transferred material to specific purposes and prevent the recipient from using it for unintended purposes.

– Confidentiality: MTAs protect confidential information associated with the material being transferred.

– Ensuring compliance: MTAs ensure that the recipient complies with the legal and ethical considerations of using the material.


A Material Transfer Agreement is an essential legal document in the world of research and development. It is necessary to protect intellectual property, control the use of material, ensure confidentiality, and compliance. If you are involved in the transfer of research materials, you need to familiarize yourself with the relevant MTA terms and requirements. Remember, an MTA can help you avoid legal problems and ensure successful collaboration with other researchers.