45 FR 30814, May 9, 1980, unless otherwise noted.
Inventions developed through the resources and activities of the Department are a potential resource of great value to the public. It is the policy of the Department:
(a) To safeguard the public interest in inventions developed by Department employees, contractors and grantees with the aid of public funds and facilities;
(b) To encourage and recognize individual and cooperative achievement in research and investigations; and
(c) To establish a procedure, consistent with pertinent statutes, Executive orders and general Government regulations, for the determination of rights and obligations relating to the patenting of inventions.
It is the general policy of the Department that the results of Department research should be made widely, promptly and freely available to other research workers and to the public. This availability can generally be adequately preserved by the dedication of a Government-owned invention to the public. Determinations to file a domestic patent application on inventions in which the Department has an interest will be made where the circumstances indicate that this is desirable in the public interest, and if it is practicable to do so. Department determinations not to apply for a domestic patent on employee inventions are subject to review and approval by the Commissioner of Patents. Except where deemed necessary for protecting the patent claim, the fact that a patent application has been or may be filed will not require any departure from normal policy regarding the dissemination of the results of Department research.
(a) Licenses to practice inventions covered by patents and pending patent applications owned by the U.S. Government as represented by this Department will generally be royalty free, revocable and nonexclusive. They will normally be issued to all applicants and will generally contain no limitations or standards relating to the quality or testing of the products to be manufactured, sold, or distributed thereunder.
(b) Where it appears however that the public interest will be served under the circumstances of the particular case by licenses which impose conditions, such as those relating to quality or testing of products, requirement of payment of royalties to the Government, etc., or by the issuance of limited exclusive licenses by the Secretary after notice and opportunity for hearing thereon, such licenses may be issued.
Central files and records shall be maintained of all inventions, patents, and licenses in which the Department has an interest, together with a record of all licenses issued by the Department under such patents. Invention reports required from employees or others for the purpose of obtaining determinations of ownership, and documents and information obtained for the purpose of prosecuting patent applications shall be confidential and shall be disclosed only as required for official purposes or with the consent of the inventor.