Department Of Defense's Current Patent And Licensing Policies And Practices

B-161059: Published: Aug 8, 1974. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1974.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) patent and licensing policies and practices, focusing on: (1) the extent to which DOD's regulations are similar to those of the General Services Administration (GSA) that were declared void in a recent court decision; (2) how DOD feels it is affected by the decision; and (3) whether it intends to make any changes in those policies and practices.

GAO noted that: (1) the GSA regulations provide about the same criteria and guidance to civil agencies required to follow them that the Armed Services Procurement Regulation (ASPR) provides to military departments for determining and allocating rights in inventions resulting from government research and development contracts; (2) GAO understands that the proposed revision coincides in many respects with the GSA regulations and that the ASPR revision will be withheld pending the outcome of the court action; (3) DOD has no prescribed regulations or procedures governing the licensing of government-owned patents; (4) the 1971 revision of the patent policy directed the GSA Administrator to promulgate and publish regulations for licensing government-owned patents, either exclusive or nonexclusive, and for listing available patents for licensing in official publications or otherwise; (5) GSA published such regulations on February 5, 1973; (6) these regulations provided guidelines and procedures to government agencies for the nonexclusive and exclusive licensing of government-owned U.S. patents and inventions for which the government had filed U.S. patent applications; (7) DOD issued a directive announcing its policy on licensing; (8) the directive stated that the public interest requires efforts to encourage the expeditious development and civilian use of inventions resulting from work funded by the government; (9) the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Public Citizen, Inc. declared the regulations void, stating that the Constitution prohibits granting exclusive licenses on government-owned patents and inventions without congressional authorization; (10) Congress has not authorized GSA to grant exclusive licenses; and (11) as a result of the court decision DOD advised the military departments that, pending the outcome of the case, no exclusive licenses to government-owned patents shall be issued nor need the licensing procedures required by the directive be submitted for approval.

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