If You Receive Gifts From a Company

  • Gifts have be used by industry as incentives to engender loyalty or support to the company or its products, as a means to bypass paying indirect costs on sponsored research, or to get access to research results. Gifts can include such things as clinical trial enrollment incentives to investigators (which are prohibited), equipment or reagents and supplies, luxury trips, travel for trainees, or unrestricted research support. The important thing to remember is that there may well be an expectation on the part of the donor for a specific deliverable in response to a gift. It is important to communicate clearly that such expectations cannot be met. If you have a financial relationship with the company, gifts create a conflict of interest that must be disclosed.

  • Faculty must use University procedures to document the terms of all gifts so your freedoms are protected and the exact nature of the exchange is spelled out.

  • Corporate gifts for educational activities should not create a venue for access to research results, an opportunity for promoting a company's product or products, or provide the company with preferential treatment.

  • Unrestricted gifts for research support are donations and as such the company receives no intellectual property rights, or access to research results. Such gifts should not be accepted when specific research activities are targeted for the gift money by the donor. A gift may not have a 'scope of work' or other deliverable. Situations in which you have sponsored research as well as a gift from the same company can create problems because there may be a tacit expectation that the gift will be used to support the same work as the research contract and it may be difficult to sort out intellectual property ownership. 

  • Conflicts of interest are magnified when you receive gifts and sponsored research funds from a company with which you have a financial relationship.

The Stanford Industry Interactions Policy addresses many of these issues in detail.

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