What is an exclusivity clause?

Firms and corporations often implement an exclusivity clause when getting into business relationships with other brands.

They do this to protect themselves from unpleasant surprises that may jeopardize what they hope to gain from the deal.

Considering the peculiarities of an exclusivity clause, it’s crucial to carefully think about the details before signing any such agreement.

But to do that, you must first understand the full scope of its provision and its impact on any business relationship.

The first question is, what does exclusivity mean?

Here, we’ll explore what an exclusivity clause is and help you understand the implications it attaches to any agreement you sign.

If you intend to use such a clause yourself, we’ll help you ensure you properly craft the contract for its intended purpose.

What is exclusivity?

Exclusivity refers to a condition in a partnership where one party is restricted to engage only the other for products or services offered by the second party. 

Primarily, exclusivity limits who the signee can do business with.

It is a powerful tool in contract law, and you can wield it to great effect when entering business relationships.

While many companies implement exclusivity to protect their interests, others may use it to gain commercial advantage through their deals with the other party. 

What is an exclusivity agreement or an exclusivity clause of an agreement? 

It’s easy to confuse an exclusivity clause, exclusivity agreement, and exclusivity contract when examining what an exclusivity clause is.

But while these three concepts tie to the same core idea, they’re not the same. 

​​Exclusivity clause

An exclusivity clause is part of a general collaboration agreement inserted by whoever drafted the document for specific reasons.

The clause grants the owner of the agreement exclusive rights to the patronage, goods, or services owned by the other party.

Exclusivity clauses can appear in supply, distribution, service, intellectual property, and other types of collaborative agreements.

Typically, they don’t take prominent roles in the agreement but can often influence how both parties view the relationship.

But in most cases, companies include exclusivity clauses in agreements to protect themselves and the other party.

It’s rare for a business to assent to an exclusivity clause unless it benefits them or they have no alternative.

Exclusivity contract and agreement

An exclusivity contract is an entire document drafted to effect an exclusive relationship between the signing parties.

Also known as a lock-out agreement, it ensures that a party to a prospective deal only negotiates with a particular counterparty for a specific period.

While the contract is the document, the agreement is the content contained in the document stating the terms of the exclusive relationship.

Typically, exclusivity agreement templates contain the following:

  • Duration and conditions of exclusivity
  • Purpose of partnership
  • Expected result/benefits/returns from the partnership
  • Repercussions for breach of exclusivity
  • Conditions that permit a breach of exclusivity

An exclusivity contract may or may not bind a party to complete a deal or seal a collaboration.

Instead, it may only require them to negotiate a transaction with only the other party for the duration of the contract.

After that, they’re free to deal with other parties.

Exclusivity agreements of this type are common in sale/purchase relationships, with the effecting party often seeking to protect itself from being outbid or outpriced by third parties.

What does non-exclusive mean?

Non-exclusive depicts a transactional scenario with no conditions preventing any involved parties from dealing with third parties.

Primarily, non-exclusive implies no obligation on any of the parties to deal solely with the other parties.

Having non-exclusive rights in a trade partnership means you’re free to purchase or sell to the other party, but they retain the freedom to transact with other parties aside from you. 

Why is an exclusivity clause important?

An exclusivity clause primarily exists as a protection mechanism for parties in a contract.

In a supplier/ buyer relationship, an exclusivity clause from the buyer obligates the supplier to sell goods only to the buyer.

This move protects the buyer’s interest by preventing the supplier from selling to others — a situation that may jeopardize the buyer’s operation should the supplier fail to provide goods as usual.

The exclusivity clause also benefits the supplier in that they get special treatment from the buyer.

For example, they agree to exclusivity, meaning they get better prices and a constant market for their products.

In exchange for selling to one person alone, they won’t need to worry about getting their goods to the market once they’re ready. 

Depending on the provisions of the contract, the buyer may also have an obligation to buy only from the supplier.

This case also grants a competitive advantage to both sides.

They both have a significant aspect of their business covered, giving them ample room to focus on the others.

The supplier can focus on producing and supplying without worrying about finding customers or marketing.

The buyer can focus on receiving and using products without worrying about supply issues. 

Check out PandaDoc’s exclusivity agreement templates

Exclusivity is a broad and powerful tool in contract law. You can wield it to your advantage with an adequate understanding of how it works.

And if you’re on the receiving end, knowing what an exclusivity clause is and its components is important to avoid potential self-sabotage in a business transaction.

That said, if you want to wield exclusivity like an expert but don’t know where to start, PandaDoc has you covered.

Feel free to pick from our numerous categories of exclusivity forms, including exclusivity distribution agreement templates.

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