Data Rights / Intellectual Property

The government, under contracts with companies, obtains certain data rights to the intellectual property your company is developing. The intellectual property portfolio of many businesses is not only the source of a competitive edge but also a significant factor in determining the value of the company. When doing business commercially, a company has significant leverage and ability to protect its intellectual property. Under government contracts, protecting intellectual property is a challenge and involves many strategic decisions, including whether to do business with the government at all.

Understanding the Government's Data Rights to Your IP

Understanding the different types of data rights the government may acquire is critical to ensure your competition does not get access, free of charge, to your intellectual property. Also, asserting specific rights prior to contract award is paramount, otherwise the ability to restrict the government’s use of your valuable intellectual property may be forfeited and you may unintentionally expose your intellectual property to your competitors with no recourse. Many government contracts also contain a Deferred Ordering Clause that effectively gives the government the right to later demand the delivery of data developed under a contract with unlimited rights.

The different types of data rights are:

  • Unlimited
  • Restricted (applies to computer software)
  • Limited (applies to technical data)
  • SBIR/STTR
  • Government Purpose Rights
  • Specially Negotiated License

For deliverables that a company asserts will be provided to the government with less than unlimited rights, it is vital that the development of such data or software is properly documented and accounted for as the government can challenge the data rights assertions you make. Without proper accountability your company may be compelled to deliver your data or software with unlimited rights.

Whether you need assistance with understanding the scope government data rights or are dealing with related issues, I can provide you the necessary guidance and advice you need to protect your valuable intellectual property.

I welcome you to contact me to discuss protecting your IP rights in the context of government contracting.