As a general rule under the Grant Agreement (Article 30.1 of the Model Grant Agreement), each beneficiary may transfer the ownership of its own results. When doing so, the transferor has in principle the obligation to give at least a 45-day prior notice to the other beneficiaries which still have, or may still request, access rights to these results. The advance notice must contain sufficient information in order for these beneficiaries to identify the transferee and assess whether their access rights might be affected by the transfer. Upon notification, any of these beneficiaries with access rights may object to the transfer, if it can show that its access rights would be adversely affected. In this case, no transfer may take place until the beneficiaries concerned reach an agreement.
This notification and objection procedure can however be overlooked in certain specific situations, amongst which:
- Mergers and acquisitions: if a transfer of ownership is not explicit but the result of a take-over or merger between two companies, confidentiality constraints under mergers and acquisitions rules will normally prevail. This means that the transfer will have to be kept confidential until the take-over or merger happens, and will be notified to the relevant beneficiaries only afterwards.
- Transfers to specifically identified third parties: by prior written agreement, the beneficiaries may waive their right to object to transfers of ownership to a specifically identified third party. In this case, there is no need to notify the other beneficiaries of the intended transfer, since they have already agreed not to object to it. This mechanism is very useful if one of the beneficiaries is part of a large group and already plans to transfer its results to its mother company or to one of its subsidiaries: it allows this beneficiary to do so without having to notify each transfer every time.