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Subpart 27.2—Patents

27.200  Scope of subpart.

This subpart prescribes policy with respect to—

(a) Patent infringement liability resulting from work performed by or for the Government;

(b) Royalties payable in connection with performing Government contracts; and

(c) Security requirements covering patent applications containing classified subject matter filed by contractors.

27.201  Authorization and consent.

27.201-1  General.

(a) In those cases where the Government has authorized or consented to the manufacture or use of an invention described in and covered by a patent of the United States, any suit for infringement of the patent based on the manufacture or use of the invention by or for the United States by a contractor (including a subcontractor at any tier) can be maintained only against the Government in the U.S. Claims Court and not against the contractor or subcontractor (28 U.S.C. 1498). To ensure that work by a contractor or subcontractor under a Government contract may not be enjoined by reason of patent infringement, the Government shall give authorization and consent in accordance with this regulation. The liability of the Government for damages in any such suit against it may, however, ultimately be borne by the contractor or subcontractor in accordance with the terms of any patent indemnity clause also included in the contract, and an authorization and consent clause does not detract from any patent indemnification commitment by the contractor or subcontractor. Therefore, both a patent indemnity clause and an authorization and consent clause may be included in the same contract.

(b) The contracting officer shall not include in any solicitation or contract—

(1) Any clause whereby the Government expressly agrees to indemnify the contractor against liability for patent infringement; or

(2) Any authorization and consent clause when both complete performance and delivery are outside the United States, its possessions, and Puerto Rico.

27.201-2  Clauses on authorization and consent.

(a) The contracting officer shall insert the clause at 52.227-1, Authorization and Consent, in solicitations and contracts (including those for construction; architect-engineer services; dismantling, demolition, or removal of improvements; and noncommon carrier communication services), except when using simplified acquisition procedures or both complete performance and delivery are outside the United States, its possessions, and Puerto Rico. Although the clause is not required when simplified acquisition procedures are used, it may be used with them.

(b) The contracting officer shall insert the clause with its Alternate I in all R&D solicitations and contracts (including those for construction and architect-engineer services calling exclusively for R&D work or exclusively for experimental work), unless both complete performance and delivery are outside the United States, its possessions, and Puerto Rico. When a proposed contract involves both R&D work and supplies or services, and the R&D work is the primary purpose of the contract, the contracting officer shall use this alternate. In all other proposed contracts involving both R&D work and supplies or services, the contracting officer shall use the basic clause. Also, when a proposed contract involves either R&D or supplies and materials, in addition to construction or architect-engineer work, the contracting officer shall use the basic clause.

(c) If the solicitation or contract is for communication services with a common carrier and the services are unregulated and not priced by a tariff schedule set by a regulatory body, the contracting officer shall use the clause with its Alternate II.

27.202  Notice and assistance.

27.202-1  General.

The contractor is required to notify the contracting officer of all claims of infringement that come to the contractor’s attention in connection with performing a Government contract. The contractor is also required, when requested, to assist the Government with any evidence and information in its possession in connection with any suit against the Government, or any claims against the Government made before suit has been instituted, on account of any alleged patent or copyright infringement arising out of or resulting from the contract performance.

27.202-2  Clause on notice and assistance.

The contracting officer shall insert the clause at 52.227-2, Notice and Assistance Regarding Patent and Copyright Infringement, in supply, service, or research and development solicitations and contracts (including construction and architect-engineer contracts) which anticipate a contract value above the simplified acquisition threshold, except when complete performance and delivery are outside the United States, its possessions, and Puerto Rico, unless the contracts indicate that the supplies or other deliverables are ultimately to be shipped into one of those areas.

27.203  Patent indemnification of Government by contractor.

27.203-1  General.

(a) To the extent set forth in this section, the Government requires reimbursement for liability for patent infringement arising out of or resulting from performing construction contracts or contracts for supplies or services that normally are or have been sold or offered for sale by any supplier to the public in the commercial open market or that are the same as such supplies or services with relatively minor modifications. Appropriate clauses for indemnification of the Government are prescribed in the following subsections.

(b) A patent indemnity clause shall not be used in the following situations:

(1) When the clause at 52.227-1, Authorization and Consent, with its Alternate I, is included in the contract, except that in contracts calling also for supplies of the kind described in paragraph (a) of this subsection, a patent indemnity clause may be used solely with respect to such supplies.

(2) When the contract is for supplies or services (or such items with relatively minor modifications) that clearly are not or have not been sold or offered for sale by any supplier to the public in the commercial open market. However, a patent indemnity clause may be included in (i) sealed bid contracts to obtain an indemnity regarding specific components, spare parts, or services so sold or offered for sale (see 27.203-2(b)), and (ii) contracts to be awarded (either by sealed bidding or negotiation) if a patent owner contends that the acquisition would result in patent infringement and the prospective contractor, after responding to a solicitation that did not contain an indemnity clause, is willing to indemnify the Government against such infringement either—

(A) Without increase in price on the basis that the patent is invalid or not infringed, or

(B) For other good reasons.

(3) When both performance and delivery are to be outside the United States, its possessions, and Puerto Rico, unless the contract indicates that the supplies or other deliverables are ultimately to be shipped into one of those areas.

(4) When the contract is awarded using simplified acquisition procedures.

(5) When the contract is solely for architect-engineer work (see Part 36).

27.203-2  Clauses for sealed bid contracts (excluding construction).

(a) Except when prohibited by 27.203-1(b), the contracting officer shall insert the clause at 52.227-3, Patent Indemnity, in sealed bid contracts for supplies or services (excluding construction and dismantling, demolition, and removal of improvements), if the contracting officer determines that the supplies or services (or such items with relatively minor modifications) normally are or have been sold or offered for sale by any supplier to the public in the commercial open market. Also, the clause may be included as authorized in 27.203-1(b)(2)(i).

(b) In solicitations and contracts (excluding those for construction) that call in part for specific components, spare parts, or services (or such items with relatively minor modifications) that normally are or have been sold or offered for sale by any supplier to the public in the commercial open market, the contracting officer may use the clause with its Alternate I or II, as appropriate. The choice between Alternate I (identification of excluded items) and Alternate II (identification of included items) should be based upon simplicity, Government administrative convenience and ease of identification of the items.

(c) In solicitations and contracts for communication services and facilities where performance is by a common carrier, and the services are unregulated and are not priced by a tariff schedule set by a regulatory body, use the basic clause with its Alternate III.

27.203-3  Negotiated contracts (excluding construction).

A patent indemnity clause is not required in negotiated contracts, (except construction contracts covered at 27.203-5), but may be used as discussed in 27.203-4. A decision to omit a patent indemnity clause in a negotiated fixed-price contract described in this subsection should be based on a price consideration to the Government for forgoing the indemnification rights normally received by commercial purchasers of the same supplies or services.

27.203-4  Clauses for negotiated contracts (excluding construction).

(a) The contracting officer may insert the clause at 52.227-3, Patent Indemnity—

(1) As authorized in 27.203-1(b)(2)(ii); and

(2) Except as prohibited by 27.203-1(b), in solicitations anticipating negotiated contracts (and such contracts) for supplies or services (excluding construction and dismantling, demolition, and removal of improvements), if the contracting officer determines that the supplies or services (or such items with relatively minor modifications) normally are or have been sold or offered for sale by any supplier to the public in the commercial open market. Ordinarily, the contracting officer, in consultation with the prospective contractor, should be able to determine whether the supplies or services being purchased normally are or have been sold or offered for sale by any supplier to the public in the commercial open market. (For negotiated construction contracts, see 27.203-5.)

(b) In solicitations and contracts that call in part for specific components, spare parts, or services (or such items with relatively minor modifications) that normally are or have been sold or offered for sale by any supplier to the public in the commercial open market, the contracting officer may use the clause with its Alternate I or II, as appropriate. The choice between Alternate I (identification of excluded items) and Alternate II (identification of included items) should be based upon simplicity, Government administrative convenience, and the ease of identification of the items.

(c) In solicitations and contracts for communication services and facilities where performance is by a common carrier, and the services are unregulated and are not priced by a tariff schedule set by a regulatory body, the clause shall be used with its Alternate III.

27.203-5  Clause for construction contracts and for dismantling, demolition, and removal of improvements contracts.

Except as prohibited by 27.203-1(b), the contracting officer shall insert the clause at 52.227-4, Patent Indemnity—Construction Contracts, in solicitations and contracts for construction or that are fixed-price for dismantling, demolition, or removal of improvements. If it is determined that the construction will necessarily involve the use of structures, products, materials, equipment, processes, or methods that are nonstandard, noncommercial, or special, the contracting officer may expressly exclude them from the patent indemnification by using the basic clause with its Alternate I.

27.203-6  Clause for Government waiver of indemnity.

If, in the Government’s interest, it is appropriate to exempt one or more specific United States patents from the patent indemnity clause, the contracting officer shall obtain written approval from the agency head or designee and shall insert the clause at 52.227-5, Waiver of Indemnity, in solicitations and contracts in addition to the appropriate patent indemnity clause. The contracting officer shall document the contract file with a copy of the written approval.

27.204  Reporting of royalties—anticipated or paid.

27.204-1  General.

(a)(1) To determine whether royalties anticipated or actually paid under Government contracts are excessive, improper, or inconsistent with any Government rights in particular inventions, patents, or patent applications, contracting officers shall require prospective contractors to furnish certain royalty information and shall require contractors to furnish certain royalty reports. Contracting officers shall take appropriate action to reduce or eliminate excessive or improper royalties.

(2) Royalty information shall not be required (except for information under 27.204-3) in sealed bid contracts unless the need for such information is approved at a level above that of the contracting officer as being necessary for proper protection of the Government’s interests.

(b) Any solicitation that may result in a negotiated contract for which royalty information is desired or for which cost or pricing data is obtained (see 15.403) should contain a provision requesting information relating to any proposed charge for royalties. If the response to a solicitation includes a charge for royalties, the contracting officer shall, before award of the contract, forward the information relating to the proposed payments of royalties to the office having cognizance of patent matters for the contracting activity concerned. The cognizant office shall promptly advise the contracting officer of appropriate action. Before award, the contracting officer shall take action to protect the Government’s interest with respect to such royalties, giving due regard to all pertinent factors relating to the proposed contract and the advice of the cognizant office.

(c) The contracting officer, when considering the approval of a subcontract, shall require and obtain the same royalty information and take the same action with respect to such subcontracts in relation to royalties as required for prime contracts under paragraph (b) of this subsection. However, consent need not be withheld pending receipt of advice in regard to such royalties from the office having cognizance of patent matters.

(d) The contracting officer shall forward the royalty information and/or royalty reports received to the office having cognizance of patent matters for the contracting activity concerned for advice as to appropriate action.

27.204-2  Solicitation provision for royalty information.

The contracting officer shall insert a solicitation provision substantially as shown in 52.227-6, Royalty Information, in any solicitation that may result in a negotiated contract for which royalty information is desired or for which cost or pricing data is obtained under 15.403. If the solicitation is for communication services and facilities by a common carrier, use the provision with its Alternate I.

27.204-3  Patents—notice of Government as a licensee.

(a) When the Government is obligated to pay a royalty on a patent because of a license agreement between the Government and a patent owner and the contracting officer knows (or has reason to believe) that the licensed patent will be applicable to a prospective contract, the Government should furnish information relating to the royalty to prospective offerors since it serves the interest of both the Government and the offerors. In such situations, the contracting officer should include in the solicitation a notice of the license, the number of the patent, and the royalty rate recited in the license.

(b) When the Government is obligated to pay such a royalty, the solicitation should also require offerors to furnish information indicating whether or not each offeror is a licensee under the patent or the patent owner. This information is necessary so that the Government may either—

(1) Evaluate an offeror’s price by adding an amount equal to the royalty; or

(2) Negotiate a price reduction with an offeror-licensee when the offeror is licensed under the same patent at a lower royalty rate.

(c) If the Government is obligated to pay a royalty on a patent involved in the prospective contract, the contracting officer shall insert in the solicitation, substantially as shown, the provision at 52.227-7, Patents—Notice of Government Licensee.

27.205  Adjustment of royalties.

(a) If at any time the contracting officer has reason to believe that any royalties paid, or to be paid, under an existing or prospective contract or subcontract are inconsistent with Government rights, excessive, or otherwise improper, the facts shall be promptly reported to the office having cognizance of patent matters for the contracting activity concerned. The cognizant office shall review the royalties thus reported and such royalties as are reported under 27.204 and 27.206 and, in accordance with agency procedures, shall either recommend appropriate action to the contracting officer or, if authorized, shall take appropriate action.

(b) In coordination with the cognizant office, the contracting officer shall promptly act to protect the Government against payment of royalties on supplies or services—

(1) With respect to which the Government has a royalty-free license;

(2) At a rate in excess of the rate at which the Government is licensed; or

(3) When the royalties in whole or in part otherwise constitute an improper charge.

(c) In appropriate cases, the contracting officer in coordination with the cognizant office shall obtain a refund pursuant to any refund of royalties clause in the contract (see 27.206) or negotiate for a reduction of royalties.

(d) For guidance in evaluating information furnished pursuant to 27.204 and 27.205(a), see 31.205-37 and 31.311-34. See also 31.109 regarding advance understandings on particular cost items, including royalties.

27.206  Refund of royalties.

27.206-1  General.

When a fixed-price contract is negotiated under circumstances that make it questionable whether or not substantial amounts of royalties will have to be paid by the contractor or a subcontractor, such royalties may be included in the target or contract price, provided the contract specifies that the Government will be reimbursed the amount of such royalties if they are not paid. Such circumstances might include, for example, either a pending Government anti-trust action or prospective litigation on the validity of a patent or patents or on the enforceability of an agreement (upon which the contractor or subcontractor bases the asserted obligation) to pay the royalties to be included in the target or contract price.

27.206-2  Clause for refund of royalties.

The contracting officer shall insert the clause at 52.227-9, Refund of Royalties, in negotiated fixed-price contracts and solicitations contemplating such contracts if the contracting officer determines that circumstances make it questionable whether or not substantial amounts of royalties will have to be paid by the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier.

27.207  Classified contracts.

27.207-1  General.

(a) Unauthorized disclosure of classified subject matter, whether in patent applications or resulting from the issuance of a patent, may be a violation of 18 U.S.C. 792, et seq. (Espionage and Censorship), and related statutes, and may be contrary to the interests of national security.

(b) Upon receipt from the contractor of a patent application, not yet filed, that has been submitted by the contractor in compliance with paragraph (a) or (b) of the clause at 52.227-10, Filing of Patent Applications—Classified Subject Matter, the contracting officer shall ascertain the proper security classification of the patent application. Upon a determination that the application contains classified subject matter, the contracting officer shall inform the contractor of any instructions deemed necessary or advisable relating to transmittal of the application to the United States Patent Office in accordance with procedures in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual. If the material is classified “Secret” or higher, the contracting officer shall make every effort to notify the contractor of the determination within 30 days, pursuant to paragraph (a) of the clause.

(c) In the case of all applications filed under the provisions of this section 27.207, the contracting officer, upon receiving the application serial number, the filing date, and the information furnished by the contractor under paragraph (d) of the clause at 52.227-10, Filing of Patent Applications—Classified Subject Matter, shall promptly submit that information to personnel having cognizance of patent matters in order that the steps necessary to ensure the security of the application may be taken.

(d) A request for the approval referred to in paragraph (c) of the clause at 52.227-10, Filing of Patent Applications—Classified Subject Matter, must be considered and acted upon promptly by the contracting officer to avoid the loss of valuable patent rights of the Government or the contractor.

27.207-2  Clause for classified contracts.

The contracting officer shall insert the clause at 52.227-10, Filing of Patent Applications—Classified Subject Matter, in all classified solicitations and contracts and in all solicitations and contracts where the nature of the work or classified subject matter involved in the work reasonably might be expected to result in a patent application containing classified subject matter.

27.208  Use of patented technology under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

(a) The requirements of this section apply to the use of technology covered by a valid patent when the patent holder is from a country that is a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

(b) Article 1709(10) of NAFTA generally requires a user of technology covered by a valid patent to make a reasonable effort to obtain authorization prior to use of the patented technology. However, NAFTA provides that this requirement for authorization may be waived in situations of national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency, or public noncommercial use.

(c) Section 6 of Executive Order 12889 of December 27, 1993, waives the requirement to obtain advance authorization for—

(1) An invention used or manufactured by or for the Federal Government, except that the patent owner must be notified whenever the agency or its contractor, without making a patent search, knows or has demonstrable reasonable grounds to know that an invention described in and covered by a valid U.S. patent is or will be used or manufactured without a license; and

(2) The existence of a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency, except that the patent owner must be notified as soon as it is reasonably practicable to do so.

(d) Section 6(c) of Executive Order 12889 provides that the notice to the patent owner does not constitute an admission of infringement of a valid privately-owned patent.

(e) When addressing issues regarding compensation for the use of patented technology, Government personnel should be advised that NAFTA uses the term “adequate remuneration.” Executive Order 12889 equates “remuneration” to “reasonable and entire compensation” as used in 28 U.S.C. 1498, the statute which gives jurisdiction to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to hear patent and copyright cases involving infringement by the U.S. Government.

(f) Depending on agency procedures, either the technical/requiring activity or the contracting officer shall ensure compliance with the notice requirements of NAFTA Article 1709(10). A contract award should not be suspended pending notification to the right holder.

(g) When questions arise regarding the notice requirements or other matters relating to this section, the contracting officer should consult with legal counsel.

27.209  Use of patented technology under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

(a) Article 31 of Annex 1C, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, to GATT (Uruguay Round) addresses situations where the law of a member country allows for use of a patent without authorization from the patent holder, including use by the Government.

(b) The contracting officer should consult with legal counsel regarding questions under this section.


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