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Frequently Asked Questions

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This page lists questions that researchers often have about interacting with ICO. If you do not see your question listed, please email and we would be happy to help you.

Where can I find a template agreement?  
What is 4D? When is an agreement required?
Does ICO use SeRA? Who can sign a Nondisclosure Agreement?
What is the reference number I was given? How do I know which office to contact?
How does ICO assign agreements for review? What is the SU-18 or SU-18A?
When is IRB needed?  

Where can I find a template agreement?

Template agreements are no longer available on ICO's website. To request a template, please contact

What is 4D?

4D is the internal database that ICO and OTL use to keep records of agreements, inventions, and licenses.

Contracts officers often copy on email communications. This is for record-keeping purposes and includes correspondence and attachments in ICO's internal database. Please do not remove this address from your reply, so we have a complete record of the correspondence.

Please do not email by itself. It is an unmonitored email address, so the message will not be seen. Instead, contact with any questions.

Does ICO use SeRA?

SeRA is the university-wide database used by all research administration offices, including ICO. ICO currently uses both SeRA and 4D to log Sponsored Research Agreements that include funding from industry. ICO will be transitioning to use SeRA exclusively in the near future.

What is the reference number I was given?

ICO's reference numbers are generated in 4D, in the format ICYYYY-XXXX. YYYY refers to the year the agreement was recorded. If the agreement was recorded in SeRA, it will also have a SPO or an AGR number. These numbers are important to help us identify the specific contract or project.

If you need to contact ICO about an existing agreement, it helps to provide as much information as possible. This includes the ICO reference number, SPO number, the agreement draft, the name of the Principal Investigator, and the other party.

When is an agreement required?

For a detailed list of Agreement Types that ICO handles and when an agreement is required, see Agreement Types. If you're not sure what type of agreement you need, please contact

Who can sign a Nondisclosure or Confidentiality Agreement?

Generally, Stanford does not sign Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs) or Confidentiality Agreements (CDAs) unless an institutional signature is required by the party providing the information.

More information about NDAs with industry can be found on the NDA page.

How do I know which office to contact?

Information about the types of agreements each contracts office at Stanford handles can be found on the Who Will Handle My Agreement? page. On that page, you can use our decision wizard tool to find out which office is responsible for handling your agreement.

How does ICO assign agreements for review?

Individuals who negotiate research-related agreements on behalf of Stanford are called  Contracts Officers. After training and testing, Industrial Contracts Officers are delegated signature authority by the University to sign certain types of agreements on behalf of the Board of Trustees. Each Contracts Officer is assigned to a number of departments and schools to handle transactions on behalf of those departments and schools. 

List of Current Department Assignments

When a Contracts Officer is unavailable, agreements are assigned on a rotating basis to other ICO team members to ensure that the department assignments are covered. 

Contact to find out who is assigned to a particular agreement.

What is the SU-18 or SU-18A?

The SU-18 is Stanford's Patent and Copyright Agreement. All Stanford employees must sign this agreement to assign rights to intellectual property developed at Stanford to the University. Usually, this is completed during the onboarding process.

The SU-18A is a version of the Patent and Copyright Agreement for Visiting Scholars.

All Stanford researchers involved in a research project must sign the SU-18 or SU-18A before ICO can complete an agreement. 

You can check if you've signed the SU-18 by signing into Axess with your SUNet ID, scrolling down to the "Legal" heading at the bottom, and clicking on the "Patent Agreement SU-18" link. If you've signed it, there will be a date at the bottom. If not, you can complete it through Axess.

When is IRB needed?

An approved IRB protocol is required for agreements involving human subjects research. Information about the compliance offices ICO works with can be found on the Compliance page.