The intellectual property rights of small business are subject to risk from differing Defense Department and Small Business Administration rules governing Small Business Innovation Research contracts, say DoD auditors.
Policies governing how long the technical data developed by small businesses under the SBIR program differ between the Small Business Administration SBIR Policy Directive and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement.
Federal agencies that spend more than $100 million annually on external research must allocate during the current fiscal year at least 2.8 percent of that budget to SBIR contracts.
The SBA directive governing SBIR says the technical data protection period starts when the last deliverable under the contract is delivered by a small business awardee. That period can be extended if the SBIR data is protected and referenced under a subsequent SBIR contract, even if the rights expired.
The DFARS rule says project completion determines the protection period. DFARS doesn’t whether the protection period can be extended or renewed.
The DoD Inspector General’s report can be downloaded at: http://www.dodig.mil/pubs/documents/DODIG-2014-049.pdf