The multi-million dollar technology licensing agreement was in danger of falling apart. It was late September 2001; some months previously, The University of Western Ontario's (UWO's) Industry Liaison Office had signed a conditional agreement with a major pharmaceutical company operating throughout the People's Republic of China (PRC). The agreement permitted the company to utilize specific technology developed at UWO in health products to be marketed throughout the PRC. The agreement was conditional upon ratification being signed not later than October 31, 2001 - but, within that period, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the months immediately following September 11, 2001, the appetite of the PRC for buying Western technology had greatly diminished, and the PRC Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Development continued to delay ratification of the agreement. UWO's legal counsel, Peter Ross, was asked by his university to lay out the framework and possible alternative courses of action within which a decision could be made as to what the university could do in this situation. The learning objectives of the case are: 1) to become aware of the forms of intellectual property (IP) that can be involved in international cooperation, the potential difficulties and risks involved in sharing IP, the types of agreements that can be drawn up to minimize the risks, and the legal frameworks within which disagreements can be resolved 2) to become aware of how different partner countries respect or allegedly disregard rights to IP and commercial transactions generally 3) to develop strategies for coping in this environment.
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