A recurring concern voiced by small or emerging companies working in the government marketplace is, “How do I effectively protect my IP when I’m forced to work with large prime contractors?” A threat is perceived that a prime contractor will take or steal the IP from a subcontractor (small company) to eliminate competition or capture leverage with the government and that the government turns a blind eye to such actions.
Companies often participate in brainstorming sessions. They recognize that through such a process, great inventions are developed and evolve. In a commercial marketplace in which a company gains rights to an invention through employment or contractual agreements, this means to promote and gain new approaches for solving difficult problems is highly accepted, as everyone is working toward a common goal and for a common entity.
The government’s implied social contract is that it will, first and foremost, take care of its citizens. So, as the U.S. and the world in general strive to resolve the coronavirus crisis, governments around the globe are motivating their citizens to offer solutions.
A survey of landmines that may await you, and an advantageous roadmap to guide you away from danger with sound pointers on how to protect your IP while operating in the government sphere. You’ve just won a government contract under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award for a prototype space widget or new cyber application – great!
Article one, section 8, clause 8 of the United States Constitution states: The Congress shall have power…to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.
The following is a brief summary of the most important issues involved with protecting your copyrights when dealing with the government – specifically the Department of Defense (DoD) – either as a prime or subcontractor.