Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Escrow


An "escrow" is an arrangement where a third-party holds something that was agreed by the parties that may be released in the event certain events occur.  The most common use of escrow in procurement contracts deal with both continuity of use or continuity of supply. For example, a software license agreement may require that Source Code be held in escrow for potential release to the Licensee if certain events occur so the Licensee may continue to use and make future changes or corrections to the Software that they licensed.  A Buyer might require the escrow of a “Manufacturing Package" in the event certain events occur so the Buyer can continue to make or have the product or equipment made without the Supplier so they have continuity of supply for both Production or Service requirements. Other types of activities could potentially require escrow if the Supplier had something that was unique in the provision of the good or service where Buyer could not quickly or inexpensively migrate to another Supplier in the event of a problem.  Escrows are always used in conjunction with a license to use the materials that were held in escrow..

Escrows require several things:
  1. The agreement of the parties that certain materials will be provided to be held in escrow.
  2. The establishment of an agreement with the third party (an Escrow Agent) for them to hold the materials until an event occurs that triggers the release of the materials to the other party.
  3. License language that establishes how the materials may be used if they are released by the Escrow Agent and what, if any, royalties may be required.
  4. The events or actions are cause for the Buyer to request the release of the escrowed materials from the Escrow Agent.
  
Escrows are usually established using two documents. In the agreement between the Buyer and Supplier or between the Licensee and Licensor, that Agreement will:

    1. Require the establishment of the escrow,
    2. Require the placing of it with the third party and the timing for placing the materials with the escrow agent.
    3. Describe the contents that are required in the escrow,
    4. Describe the responsibilities of the Supplier or Licensor to maintain, update and keep the Escrow current.
    5. Audit rights provided to Buyer or a third party to verify compliance
    6. The triggering events that will allow for the Buyer or Licensee to demand the release or the escrowed materials.
    7. The license granted for the use of the escrowed materials.
    8. Any license fee that must be paid for the use of the materials and when the license will be royalty free.


The second agreement is the Escrow Agent agreement that is signed by the Buyer, Supplier and the Escrow agent (or Licensor, Licensee and Escrow Agent). The Escrow Agent Agreement will usually contain:
    1. The coordinators for the escrow from all three companies.
    2. The responsibility for the payment of fees to the Escrow Agent for performing their services.
    3. The responsibilities of the Supplier / Licensor in establishing and maintaining the escrow materials current.
    4. The responsibilities of the Buyer/Licensee, if any
    5. The responsibilities of the Escrow Agent.
    6. The triggering events or procedure that is used for demanding release of the escrowed materials including notifications to the Suplier or Licensor that demand had been made.
    7. How it will be released and the responsibilities of the Buyer/Licensee in the materials that are released.
    8. Remedies that the Supplier or Licensor may have if the release was not warranted.

The real value of any escrow will always be dependent upon the Buyer or Licensor's ability to use the 
materials and license to meet the their future needs.  As the Buyer or Licensee may not have the resources or capabilities to internally use the materials most licenses should provide for the Buyer to have the right to have a third party use the escrowed materials and license to perform things within the scope of the license on behalf of the Buyer or Licensee. If the Supplier or Licensor was having a 
third party perform the work on their behalf,  the agreement between the Buyer and Supplier as part of the license grant the Buyer should have the right to use that third party and require that the Supplier
assist them in establishing a relationship with that third party.  For example if the Supplier had the manufacture of the product performed by a contract manufacturer, the Buyer would want the right to 
have the product continued to be produced by the contract manufacturer and have the Supplier assist the Buyer in establishing that relationship so there will be a quick transition.

No comments:

Post a Comment