Here’s another reminder of limitations that exist when there is a third party claim of infringement against a U.S. Government agency. In such a case, the patent owner must sue in the United States Court of Federal Claims and may recover only “reasonable and entire compensation” for the unauthorized use. See 28 U.S.C. Section 1498(a). No injunctive relief is afforded the plaintiff.  Within the context of that proceeding, the Government agency is free to seek a determination that the patent is invalid, and if the claimed invention does not meet one or more of the patentability requirements, the Government agency will have no liability.

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In the August 2018 publication of Thomson Reuters’ Briefing Papers, McCarter & English Government Contracts and Export Controls Partner Dan Kelly provides a comprehensive review of patent rights under “Other Transaction Agreements” (OTAs) with DoD and NASA. Heavily promoted by Congress, and only partially understood by industry, OTAs are quickly becoming DoD’s and NASA’s contractual vehicle of choice to lure commercial companies to sell the Government their latest and greatest technologies. However, OTAs are not governed by standard government contracts laws and regulations, meaning there are significant changes to the common provisions of ownership and license rights incident to government contracts and grants. The Briefing Paper should be required reading before entities enter into an OTA as a vehicle for developing new technologies for NASA and DoD to ensure their company’s intellectual property efforts are properly protected.

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