The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA” or “Act”) includes changes that could make the Department of Defense (“DoD”) a more effective and knowledgeable purchaser of Intellectual Property (“IP”) and promote more flexible IP acquisition strategies. These same changes also could encourage Contracting Officers to insist on broader IP rights and delivery requirements. While it has always been important for contractors to protect their IP (click here for our list of “Top 10 Ways to Lose Rights in Your IP”), with the passage of the 2018 NDAA, avoiding the loss of valuable IP rights could require even more sophistication and vigilance.
Continue Reading Contractors Beware: The 2018 NDAA Ushers In New Changes Affecting IP Rights

Companies invest vast resources in the development of intellectual property with the legitimate expectation that they will be the principal, if not exclusive, beneficiaries of their intellectual endeavors. Protecting technical
Continue Reading Creating Intellectual Property is Hard; Losing It to Uncle Sam is Easy

By Louis D. Victorino

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) recently issued a so-called en banc (all judges of the court) decision with great importance to Federal Government contractors. In Zoltek Corp. v. United States, Fed. Cir., No. 2009-5135, March 14, 2012 ("Zoltek II"), the Court redefined the scope of the statute underlying the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) "Authorization and Consent" clause, 28 U.S.C. §1498. In so doing, the Court confirmed Federal Government contractor immunity from patent infringement suits in instances where the patent infringement may have occurred in whole or in part outside of the United States. The more fundamental holding of the case was to reverse its own prior decision in the same case (“Zoltek I”), in which the CAFC had held that §1498 does not waive Federal Government patent immunity from certain patent infringements occurring in part outside the United States.


Continue Reading In the Tradition of Gilda Radner, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Proclaims “Never Mind” in Zoltek II

By David S. Gallacher and Kerry O’Neill

Last April, we wrote about proposed changes to Department of Defense ("DoD") reporting requirements for independent research and development ("IR&D"), raising concerns about how the proposed change would tie recoverability of IR&D costs to new reporting and disclosure requirements. Recently, Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement ("DFARS") 231.205-18(c) was finalized, with changes. See 77 Fed. Reg. 4632 (Jan. 30, 2012). This final rule is a mixed bag that got some things right, but also leaves some of the most serious issues unresolved.


Continue Reading Final Rule for IR&D Reports Fails to Address Most Serious Questions

By David S. Gallacher

Those familiar with Government contracting know at least a little bit about the elusive and fickle regulatory requirements for Independent Research and Development (“IR&D” or “IRAD”) costs. IR&D is a means by which the U.S. Government supports a Contractor’s independent R&D efforts. By reimbursing a Contractor’s independent R&D costs, the Government long has hoped to advance the state of the art without stifling a contractor’s innovation under the weight of a federal bureaucracy, while simultaneously banking on the fact that the U.S. Government also will benefit from the technology advancements. But two recent developments may change the essential nature of IR&D, making it less “independent” and more “dependent” on Government rights and oversight. To quote Bob Dylan – “the times they are a changin’.” 
 


Continue Reading The Times They Are A Changin’ – Independent Research and Development May Not Be So “Independent” Any More

By Louis D. Victorino

A great deal of discussion has transpired regarding recent legislation that reportedly could alter significantly the established “follow-the-funds” test used for the allocation of intellectual property rights in data developed under a government contract. The legislation involved is a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (the “Act”), signed into law on January 7, 2011. In particular, Section 824 of the Act provides “Guidance Relating to Rights in Technical Data” and, more importantly, amends Section 2320(a) of Title 10 of the United States Code, the provision that defines the allocation of rights in intellectual property under Government contracts.
 


Continue Reading Frankenstein’s Monster: Data Rights Changes Adopted In The National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2011

The Department of Homeland Security recently updated its website to identify agency intellectual property that should not be used without prior authorization from the agency. The website identifies a long list of agency related trademarks including those applicable to well known agency programs.  Whether all of the claimed trademarks would prove enforceable if challenged remains to be seen. The agency’s asserted blanket "no use" prohibition without prior consent also is legally suspect. Regardless, the newly published list serves as a reminder that contractors must use the government identifiers with care in connection with any promotional or advertising materials.

Even absent such a trademark designation, federal, state and foreign laws and regulations restrict the use in promotional or advertising materials of government personnel images, uniforms and insignia without specific, prior authorization. Indeed, applicable laws, in many cases, impose civil or criminal sanctions for such misuse.
 


Continue Reading Use of Government Personnel, Uniforms and Insignia in Promotional or Advertising Materials