Intellect and the law

These laws and regulations govern the ownership of intellectual property in federal research contracts:

Bayh-Dole Act: This law went into effect in 1980 and creates a uniform patent policy for inventions and ideas coming out of federally sponsored research by small businesses, universities and nonprofit organizations.

It has been extended over the years to include large businesses and contractors at government-owned laboratories. It allows contractors to retain the title to and profits from their inventions. In return, the government retains royalty-free licenses to use the inventions whenever needed.

"Other transaction" authority: Congress granted temporary authority in 1989 to allow the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to step outside standard contracting regulation requirements for its research projects.

Lawmakers made it a standard part of the Defense Department's authority in the fiscal 1994 National Defense Authorization Act, and it has since been extended to several civilian agencies, including NASA and the Energy Department.

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