At this time of year, it is important to discuss a topic which is often-overlooked by many SBIR/STTR contractors and grantees: the importance of protecting your Intellectual Property (IP) when preparing your proposal(s).Read More
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ReliAscent is proud to announce our partnership with Martensen, a law firm specializing in intellectual property (IP) and serving businesses contracting with the Federal Government. Martensen offers critically important, often overlooked services to contractors/grantees, and we highly recommend all businesses have their IP protection strategies professionally evaluated prior to submitting any proposal to the Government or any other entity.Read More
The SBIR & STTR programs provide for intellectual property rights to the small business awardee. The SBIR or STTR awardee is usually given IP rights in accordance with FAR 52.227-11. This clearly allows the awardee to keep the rights to the IP, provided they follow the guidelines of the FAR paragraph. This does allow the government access to the IP for their use if they so desire. What has been troubling in recent years, however, is that these rights appear to have been either ignored or abused when the Government reaches Phase III of the SBIR program. Now, officially the SBIR program does not fund the Phase III portion of the program. They can, however fund product development in this phase thru other contracting vehicles or with matching funds from industry.
We have talked before about Intellectual Property rights for the government contractor. I thought it might be good to get a little more specific to the SBIR awardee since this program usually always involves some innovative discovery. There are 3 areas related to Intellectual Property:
Strategizing and protecting your IP rights is crucial to companies, especially within industries that are highly technical. The government understands this, especially for small business, and has designed regulations to help the company do this when research and/or development is funded by either a government grant or contract. Government awards have the advantage of providing a company with access to federal funding for (a) research and development work relating to new technology, and (b) further work leading to the commercialization of that new technology for use by the government or the private sector. Government awardees can retain a significant portion of their IP rights during this process, but only by adhering to various statutes and regulations. In addition to protecting their own IP rights, awardees must be prepared to defend themselves against infringement claims that may be brought by other companies as a result of work performed under government awards. This issue often occurs when the government awards a contract to one of two competitors and the other company alleges that carrying out the contract necessarily violates its IP rights. In addition, Title 28, Sections 1498(a) and (b), provides for the filing of a patent or copyright infringement action against the United States in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for allegedly infringing acts by the government or by its contractors or subcontractors during the performance of work under a federal contract. Because government contracts often incorporate indemnification provisions, contractors may be liable to indemnify the United States for damages suffered as a result of allegations of infringement by others. The Federal Acquisition Regulation has several provisions that relate to such IP disputes.