Title 37

SECTION 401.14

401.14 Standard patent rights clauses.

§ 401.14 Standard patent rights clauses.

The following is the standard patent rights clause to be used as specified in § 401.3(a):

Standard Patent Rights (a) Definitions

(1) Invention means any invention or discovery which is or may be patentable or otherwise protectable under Title 35 of the United States Code, or any novel variety of plant which is or may be protected under the Plant Variety Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq.).

(2) Subject invention means any invention of the contractor conceived or first actually reduced to practice in the performance of work under this contract, provided that in the case of a variety of plant, the date of determination (as defined in section 41(d) of the Plant Variety Protection Act, 7 U.S.C. 2401(d)) must also occur during the period of contract performance.

(3) Practical Application means to manufacture in the case of a composition or product, to practice in the case of a process or method, or to operate in the case of a machine or system; and, in each case, under such conditions as to establish that the invention is being utilized and that its benefits are, to the extent permitted by law or government regulations, available to the public on reasonable terms.

(4) Made when used in relation to any invention means the conception or first actual reduction to practice of such invention.

(5) Small Business Firm means a small business concern as defined at section 2 of Pub. L. 85-536 (15 U.S.C. 632) and implementing regulations of the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. For the purpose of this clause, the size standards for small business concerns involved in government procurement and subcontracting at 13 CFR 121.3-8 and 13 CFR 121.3-12, respectively, will be used.

(6) Nonprofit Organization means a university or other institution of higher education or an organization of the type described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (26 U.S.C. 501(c) and exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (25 U.S.C. 501(a)) or any nonprofit scientific or educational organization qualified under a state nonprofit organization statute.

(7) The term statutory period means the one-year period before the effective filing date of a claimed invention during which exceptions to prior art exist per 35 U.S.C. 102(b) as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, Public Law 112-29.

(8) The term contractor means any person, small business firm or nonprofit organization, or, as set forth in section 1, paragraph (b)(4) of Executive Order 12591, as amended, any business firm regardless of size, which is a party to a funding agreement.

(b) Allocation of Principal Rights

The Contractor may retain the entire right, title, and interest throughout the world to each subject invention subject to the provisions of this clause and 35 U.S.C. 203. With respect to any subject invention in which the Contractor retains title, the Federal government shall have a nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license to practice or have practiced for or on behalf of the United States the subject invention throughout the world.

(c) Invention Disclosure, Election of Title and Filing of Patent Application by Contractor

(1) The contractor will disclose each subject invention to the Federal Agency within two months after the inventor discloses it in writing to contractor personnel responsible for patent matters. The disclosure to the agency shall be in the form of a written report and shall identify the contract under which the invention was made and the inventor(s). It shall be sufficiently complete in technical detail to convey a clear understanding to the extent known at the time of the disclosure, of the nature, purpose, operation, and the physical, chemical, biological or electrical characteristics of the invention. The disclosure shall also identify any publication, on sale or public use of the invention and whether a manuscript describing the invention has been submitted for publication and, if so, whether it has been accepted for publication at the time of disclosure. In addition, after disclosure to the agency, the Contractor will promptly notify the agency of the acceptance of any manuscript describing the invention for publication or of any on sale or public use planned by the contractor.

(2) The contractor will elect in writing whether or not to retain title to any such invention by notifying the Federal agency within two years of disclosure to the Federal agency. However, in any case where a patent, a printed publication, public use, sale, or other availability to the public has initiated the one year statutory period wherein valid patent protection can still be obtained in the United States, the period for election of title may be shortened by the agency to a date that is no more than 60 days prior to the end of the statutory period.

(3) The contractor will file its initial patent application on a subject invention to which it elects to retain title within one year after election of title or, if earlier, prior to the end of any statutory period wherein valid patent protection can be obtained in the United States after a publication, on sale, or public use. If the contractor files a provisional application as its initial patent application, it shall file a non-provisional application within 10 months of the filing of the provisional application. The contractor will file patent applications in additional countries or international patent offices within either ten months of the first filed patent application or six months from the date permission is granted by the Commissioner of Patents to file foreign patent applications where such filing has been prohibited by a Secrecy Order.

(4) For any subject invention with Federal agency and contractor co-inventors, where the Federal agency employing such co-inventor determines that it would be in the interest of the government, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 207(a)(3), to file an initial patent application on the subject invention, the Federal agency employing such co-inventor, at its discretion and in consultation with the contractor, may file such application at its own expense, provided that the contractor retains the ability to elect title pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 202(a).

(5) Requests for extension of the time for disclosure, election, and filing under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of this clause may, at the discretion of the Federal agency, be granted. When a contractor has requested an extension for filing a non-provisional application after filing a provisional application, a one-year extension will be granted unless the Federal agency notifies the contractor within 60 days of receiving the request.

(d) Conditions When the Government May Obtain Title

The contractor will convey to the Federal agency, upon written request, title to any subject invention -

(1) If the contractor fails to disclose or elect title to the subject invention within the times specified in paragraph (c) of this clause, or elects not to retain title.

(2) In those countries in which the contractor fails to file patent applications within the times specified in paragraph (c) of this clause; provided, however, that if the contractor has filed a patent application in a country after the times specified in paragraph (c) of this clause, but prior to its receipt of the written request of the Federal agency, the contractor shall continue to retain title in that country.

(3) In any country in which the contractor decides not to continue the prosecution of any non-provisional patent application for, to pay a maintenance, annuity or renewal fee on, or to defend in a reexamination or opposition proceeding on, a patent on a subject invention.

(e) Minimum Rights to Contractor and Protection of the Contractor Right to File

(1) The contractor will retain a nonexclusive royalty-free license throughout the world in each subject invention to which the Government obtains title, except if the contractor fails to disclose the invention within the times specified in (c), above. The contractor's license extends to its domestic subsidiary and affiliates, if any, within the corporate structure of which the contractor is a party and includes the right to grant sublicenses of the same scope to the extent the contractor was legally obligated to do so at the time the contract was awarded. The license is transferable only with the approval of the Federal agency except when transferred to the sucessor of that party of the contractor's business to which the invention pertains.

(2) The contractor's domestic license may be revoked or modified by the funding Federal agency to the extent necessary to achieve expeditious practical application of the subject invention pursuant to an application for an exclusive license submitted in accordance with applicable provisions at 37 CFR part 404 and agency licensing regulations (if any). This license will not be revoked in that field of use or the geographical areas in which the contractor has achieved practical application and continues to make the benefits of the invention reasonably accessible to the public. The license in any foreign country may be revoked or modified at the discretion of the funding Federal agency to the extent the contractor, its licensees, or the domestic subsidiaries or affiliates have failed to achieve practical application in that foreign country.

(3) Before revocation or modification of the license, the funding Federal agency will furnish the contractor a written notice of its intention to revoke or modify the license, and the contractor will be allowed thirty days (or such other time as may be authorized by the funding Federal agency for good cause shown by the contractor) after the notice to show cause why the license should not be revoked or modified. The contractor has the right to appeal, in accordance with applicable regulations in 37 CFR part 404 and agency regulations (if any) concerning the licensing of Government-owned inventions, any decision concerning the revocation or modification of the license.

(f) Contractor Action to Protect the Government's Interest

(1) The contractor agrees to execute or to have executed and promptly deliver to the Federal agency all instruments necessary to (i) establish or confirm the rights the Government has throughout the world in those subject inventions to which the contractor elects to retain title, and (ii) convey title to the Federal agency when requested under paragraph (d) above and to enable the government to obtain patent protection throughout the world in that subject invention.

(2) The contractor agrees to require, by written agreement, its employees, other than clerical and nontechnical employees, to disclose promptly in writing to personnel identified as responsible for the administration of patent matters and in a format suggested by the contractor each subject invention made under contract in order that the contractor can comply with the disclosure provisions of paragraph (c) of this clause, to assign to the contractor the entire right, title and interest in and to each subject invention made under contract, and to execute all papers necessary to file patent applications on subject inventions and to establish the government's rights in the subject inventions. This disclosure format should require, as a minimum, the information required by paragraph (c)(1) of this clause. The contractor shall instruct such employees through employee agreements or other suitable educational programs on the importance of reporting inventions in sufficient time to permit the filing of patent applications prior to U.S. or foreign statutory bars.

(3) For each subject invention, the contractor will, no less than 60 days prior to the expiration of the statutory deadline, notify the Federal agency of any decision: Not to continue the prosecution of a non-provisional patent application; not to pay a maintenance, annuity or renewal fee; not to defend in a reexamination or opposition proceeding on a patent, in any country; to request, be a party to, or take action in a trial proceeding before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including but not limited to post-grant review, review of a business method patent, inter partes review, and derivation proceeding; or to request, be a party to, or take action in a non-trial submission of art or information at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including but not limited to a pre-issuance submission, a post-issuance submission, and supplemental examination.

(4) The contractor agrees to include, within the specification of any United States patent applications and any patent issuing thereon covering a subject invention, the following statement, “This invention was made with government support under (identify the contract) awarded by (identify the Federal agency). The government has certain rights in the invention.”

(g) Subcontracts

(1) The contractor will include this clause, suitably modified to identify the parties, in all subcontracts, regardless of tier, for experimental, developmental or research work to be performed by a subcontractor.. The subcontractor will retain all rights provided for the contractor in this clause, and the contractor will not, as part of the consideration for awarding the subcontract, obtain rights in the subcontractor's subject inventions.

(2) The contractor will include in all other subcontracts, regardless of tier, for experimental developmental or research work the patent rights clause required by (cite section of agency implementing regulations or FAR).

(3) In the case of subcontracts, at any tier, when the prime award with the Federal agency was a contract (but not a grant or cooperative agreement), the agency, subcontractor, and the contractor agree that the mutual obligations of the parties created by this clause constitute a contract between the subcontractor and the Federal agency with respect to the matters covered by the clause; provided, however, that nothing in this paragraph is intended to confer any jurisdiction under the Contract Disputes Act in connection with proceedings under paragraph (j) of this clause.

(h) Reporting on Utilization of Subject Inventions

The Contractor agrees to submit on request periodic reports no more frequently than annually on the utilization of a subject invention or on efforts at obtaining such utilization that are being made by the contractor or its licensees or assignees. Such reports shall include information regarding the status of development, date of first commerical sale or use, gross royalties received by the contractor, and such other data and information as the agency may reasonably specify. The contractor also agrees to provide additional reports as may be requested by the agency in connection with any march-in proceeding undertaken by the agency in accordance with paragraph (j) of this clause. As required by 35 U.S.C. 202(c)(5), the agency agrees it will not disclose such information to persons outside the government without permission of the contractor.

(i) Preference for United States Industry

Notwithstanding any other provision of this clause, the contractor agrees that neither it nor any assignee will grant to any person the exclusive right to use or sell any subject inventions in the United States unless such person agrees that any products embodying the subject invention or produced through the use of the subject invention will be manufactured substantially in the United States. However, in individual cases, the requirement for such an agreement may be waived by the Federal agency upon a showing by the contractor or its assignee that reasonable but unsuccessful efforts have been made to grant licenses on similar terms to potential licensees that would be likely to manufacture substantially in the United States or that under the circumstances domestic manufacture is not commerically feasible.

(j) March-in Rights

The contractor agrees that with respect to any subject invention in which it has acquired title, the Federal agency has the right in accordance with the procedures in 37 CFR 401.6 and any supplemental regulations of the agency to require the contractor, an assignee or exclusive licensee of a subject invention to grant a nonexclusive, partially exclusive, or exclusive license in any field of use to a responsible applicant or applicants, upon terms that are reasonable under the circumstances, and if the contractor, assignee, or exclusive licensee refuses such a request the Federal agency has the right to grant such a license itself if the Federal agency determines that:

(1) Such action is necessary because the contractor or assignee has not taken, or is not expected to take within a reasonable time, effective steps to achieve practical application of the subject invention in such field of use.

(2) Such action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs which are not reasonably satisfied by the contractor, assignee or their licensees;

(3) Such action is necessary to meet requirements for public use specified by Federal regulations and such requirements are not reasonably satisfied by the contractor, assignee or licensees; or

(4) Such action is necessary because the agreement required by paragraph (i) of this clause has not been obtained or waived or because a licensee of the exclusive right to use or sell any subject invention in the United States is in breach of such agreement.

(k) Special Provisions for Contracts with Nonprofit Organizations

If the contractor is a nonprofit organization, it agrees that:

(1) Rights to a subject invention in the United States may not be assigned without the approval of the Federal agency, except where such assignment is made to an organization which has as one of its primary functions the management of inventions, provided that such assignee will be subject to the same provisions as the contractor;

(2) The contractor will share royalties collected on a subject invention with the inventor, including Federal employee co-inventors (when the agency deems it appropriate) when the subject invention is assigned in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 202(e) and 37 CFR 401.10;

(3) The balance of any royalties or income earned by the contractor with respect to subject inventions, after payment of expenses (including payments to inventors) incidential to the administration of subject inventions, will be utilized for the support of scientific research or education; and

(4) It will make efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to attract licensees of subject inventions that are small business firms and that it will give a preference to a small business firm when licensing a subject invention if the contractor determines that the small business firm has a plan or proposal for marketing the invention which, if executed, is equally as likely to bring the invention to practical application as any plans or proposals from applicants that are not small business firms; provided, that the contractor is also satisfied that the small business firm has the capability and resources to carry out its plan or proposal. The decision whether to give a preference in any specific case will be at the discretion of the contractor. However, the contractor agrees that the Federal agency may review the contractor's licensing program and decisions regarding small business applicants, and the contractor will negotiate changes to its licensing policies, procedures, or practices with the Federal agency when the Federal agency's review discloses that the contractor could take reasonable steps to implement more effectively the requirements of this paragraph (k)(4). In accordance with 37 CFR 401.7, the Federal agency or the contractor may request that the Secretary review the contractor's licensing program and decisions regarding small business applicants.

(l) Communication

[Complete according to instructions at § 401.5(b)]

[52 FR 8554, Mar. 18, 1987, as amended at 69 FR 17301, Apr. 2, 2004; 83 FR 15961, Apr. 13, 2018]