Small businesses should prepare for new data rights provisions appearing in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) class deviation addressing SBIR contracts will cause contracts with the new deviation language to provide SBIR Data Rights protection for 20 years instead of the traditional five years.
- At the end of the protection period, the DoD will receive Government Purpose Rights, instead of Unlimited Rights.
- Changes to the FAR for civilian agencies’ SBIR contracts are to come.
On March 17, 2020, the DoD issued class deviation 2020-O0007, which has major implications for small businesses seeking DoD contracts under the SBIR program. Since 1982, the SBIR program has provided funding for small businesses to perform federally funded research and development (R&D) as well as to commercialize innovations that spring from such R&D efforts. The federal government allocates $2.2 billion annually to fund the SBIR program and its sister program, the Small Business Technology Transfer program. Because these programs are designed to both strengthen small businesses and further federal R&D, they allocate data rights in a way that is more advantageous to contractors than is typical in government contracts. The DoD’s new class deviation revises substantially the allocation of data rights for SBIR contracts.
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