Sponsored libre research agreements to create free and open source software and hardware

Joshua M. Pearce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


As a growing number of companies reject intellectual property (IP) monopoly-based business models to embrace libre product development of free and open source hardware and software, there is an urgent need to refurbish the instruments of university-corporate research partnerships. These partnerships generally use a proprietary standard research agreement (PSRA), which for historical reasons contains significant IP monopoly language and restrictions for both the company and the university. Such standard research agreements thus create an artificial barrier to innovation as both companies using a libre model and universities they wish to collaborate with must invest significantly to restructure the contracts. To solve this problem, this article provides a new Sponsored Libre Research Agreement (SLRA). The differences between the agreements are detailed. The advantages of using an SLRA are provided for any type of company and include: (1) minimizing research investments on reporting requirements; (2) reducing delays related to confidentiality and publication embargos; and (3) reducing both transaction and legal costs as well as research time losses associated with IP. Moving to libre agreements both speeds up and reduces costs for setting up collaborative research. Under the SLRA, university researchers can spend more time innovating for the same investment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • FOSH
  • Free and open source hardware
  • Free and open source software
  • Open design
  • Open hardware
  • Open science
  • Open scientific hardware
  • OScH
  • P2P
  • P2P manufacturing
  • Sponsored research
  • Sponsored research agreement


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