Regulations last checked for updates: Jun 18, 2019

Title 43 - Public Lands: Interior last revised: May 17, 2019
§ 6.1 - Definitions.

As used in this subpart:

(a) The term Department means the Department of the Interior.

(b) The term Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior.

(c) The term Solicitor means the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior, or anyone authorized to act for him.

(d) The term Commissioner means the Commissioner of Patents, or any Assistant Commissioner who may act for the Commissioner of Patents.

(e) The term invention means any new and useful art, process, method, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, or any new variety of plant, or any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture, which is or may be patentable under the laws of the United States.

(f) The term employee as used in this part includes a part time consultant, a part time employee or a special employee (as defined in 18 U.S.C. 202) of the Department insofar as inventions made during periods of official duty are concerned, except when special circumstances in a specific case require an exemption in order to meet the needs of the Department, each such exemption to be subject to the approval of the Commissioner.

(g) The term governmental purpose means the right of the Government of the United States (including any agency thereof, state, or domestic municipal government) to practice and have practiced (made or have made, used or have used, sold or have sold) throughout the world by or on behalf of the Government of the United States.

(h) The making of the invention means the conception or first actual reduction to practice of such invention.

§ 6.2 - Report of invention.

(a) Every invention made by an employee of the Department shall be reported by such employee through his supervisor and the head of the bureau or office to the Solicitor, unless the invention obviously is unpatentable. If the invention is the result of group work, the report shall be made by the supervisor and shall be signed by all employees participating in the making of the invention. The original and two copies of the invention report shall be furnished to the Solicitor. The Solicitor may prescribe the form of the report.

(b) The report shall be made as promptly as possible, taking into consideration such factors as possible publication or public use, reduction to practice, and the necessity for protecting any rights of the Government in the invention. Although it is not necessary to withhold the report until the process or device is completely reduced to practice, reduction to practice assists in the preparation of a patent application and, if diligently pursued, protects the interests of the Government and of the inventor. If an invention is reduced to practice after the invention report is filed, the Solicitor must be notified forthwith.

(c) For the protection of the rights of the Government and of the inventor, invention reports and memoranda or correspondence concerning them are to be considered as confidential documents.

(d) An invention report shall include the following:

(1) A brief but pertinently descriptive title of the invention;

(2) The full name, residence, office address, bureau or office and division, position or title, and official working place of the inventor or inventors;

(3) A statement of the evidence that is available as to the making of the invention, including information relative to conception, disclosures to others, and reduction to practice. Examples of such information are references to signed, witnessed and dated laboratory notebooks, or other authenticated records pertaining to the conception of the invention, operational data sheets, analysis and operation evaluation reports pertaining to a reduction to practice, and visitor log books, letters and other documents pertaining to disclosures to others. These need not be submitted with the report, only the identifying data is required, e.g., volume and page number in a laboratory notebook;

(4) Information concerning any past or prospective publication, oral presentation or public use of the invention;

(5) The problem which led to the making of the invention;

(6) The objects, advantages, and uses of the invention;

(7) A detailed description of the invention;

(8) Experimental data;

(9) The prior art known to the inventor(s) and the manner in which the invention distinguishes thereover;

(10) A statement that the employee:

(i) Is willing to and does hereby assign to the Government:

(a) The entire rights (foreign and domestic) in the invention;

(b) The domestic rights only, but grants to the Government an option to file for patent protection in any foreign country, said option to expire as to any country when it is decided not to file thereon in the United States, or within six months after such filing;

(ii) Requests, pursuant to § 6.2(e), a determination of the respective rights of the Government and of the inventor.

(e) If the inventor believes that he is not required by the regulations in this subpart to assign to the Government the entire domestic right, title, and interest in and to the invention, and if he is unwilling to make such an assignment to the Government, he shall, in his invention report, request that the Solicitor determine the respective rights of the Government and of the inventor in the invention, and he shall include in his invention report information on the following points, in addition to the data called for in paragraph (d) of this section:

(1) The circumstances under which the invention was made (conceived, actually reduced to practice or constructed and tested);

(2) The employee's official duties, as given on his job sheet or otherwise assigned, at the time of the making of the invention;

(3) The extent to which the invention was made during the inventor's official working hours, the extent use was made of government facilities, equipment, funds, material or information, and the time or services of other government employees on official duty;

(4) Whether the employee wishes a patent application to be prosecuted under the Act of March 3, 1883, as amended (35 U.S.C. 266), if it should be determined that he is not required to assign all domestic rights to the invention to the Government; and

(5) Whether the employee would be willing, upon request, to voluntarily assign foreign rights in the invention to the Government if it should be determined that an assignment of the domestic rights to the Government is not required.

§ 6.3 - Action by supervisory officials.

(a) The preparation of an invention report and other official correspondence on patent matters is one of the regular duties of an employee who has made an invention and the supervisor of such employee shall see that he is allowed sufficient time from his other duties to prepare such documents. The supervisor shall ascertain that the invention report and other papers are prepared in conformity with the regulations of this part; and, before transmitting the invention report to the head of the bureau or office, shall check its accuracy and completeness, especially with respect to the circumstances in which the invention was developed, and shall add whatever comments he may deem to be necessary or desirable. The supervisor shall add to the file whatever information he may have concerning the governmental and commercial value of the invention.

(b) The head of the bureau or office shall make certain that the invention report is as complete as circumstances permit. He shall report whatever information may be available in his agency concerning the governmental and commercial value of the invention, and the foreign countries in which it is likely that the invention would be most useful and would have the greatest commercial value.

(c) If the employee inventor requests that the Solicitor determine his rights in the invention, the head of the bureau or office shall state his conclusions with respect to such rights.

(d) The head of the bureau or office shall indicate whether, in his judgment, the invention is liable to be used in the public interest, and he shall set out the facts supporting his conclusion whenever the employee's invention report does not contain sufficient information on this point.

§ 6.4 - Action by Solicitor.

(a) If an employee inventor requests pursuant to § 6.2(e), that such determination be made, the Solicitor shall determine the respective rights of the employee and of the Government in and to the invention. His determination shall be subject to review by the Commissioner in proper cases under Executive Orders 10096 and 10930 and the rules and regulations issued by the Commissioner with the approval of the President.

(b) If the Government is entitled to obtain the entire domestic right, title and interest in and to an invention made by an employee of the Department, the Solicitor, subject to review by the Commissioner in proper cases, may take such action respecting the invention as he deems necessary or advisable to protect the interests of the United States.

§ 6.5 - Rights in inventions.

(a) The rules prescribed in this section shall be applied in determining the respective rights of the Government and of an employee of the Department in and to any invention made by the employee.

(b)(1) Except as indicated in the succeeding paragraphs, (b) (1) through (4), of this section, the Government shall obtain the entire domestic right, title, and interest in and to any invention made by an employee of the Department

(i) During working hours, or

(ii) With a contribution by the Government of facilities, equipment, materials, funds, or information, or of time or services of other government employees on official duty, or

(iii) Which bears a direct relation to or is made in consequence of the official duties of the inventor.

(2) In any case where the contribution of the Government, as measured by any one or more of the criteria set forth in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, to the invention is insufficient equitably to justify a requirement of assignment to the Government of the entire domestic right, title, and interest in and to such invention, or in any case where the Government has insufficient interest in an invention to obtain the entire domestic right, title, and interest therein (although the Government could obtain same under paragraph (b)(1) of this section), the Solicitor, subject to the approval of the Commissioner, shall leave title to such invention in the employee, subject, however, to the reservation to the Government of a nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license in the invention with power to grant sublicenses for all governmental purposes, such reservation, in the terms thereof, to appear, where practicable, in any patent, domestic or foreign, which may issue on such invention.

(3) In applying the provisions of paragraphs (b) (1) and (2) of this section to the facts and circumstances relating to the making of any particular invention, it shall be presumed that any invention made by an employee who is employed or assigned (i) to invent or improve or perfect any art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or (ii) to conduct or perform research, development work, or both, or (iii) to supervise, direct, coordinate, or review Government financed or conducted research, development work, or both, or (iv) to act in a liaison capacity among governmental or nongovernmental agencies or individuals engaged in such work, falls within the provisions of paragraph (b)(1) of this section, and it shall be presumed that any invention made by any other employee falls within the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Either presumption may be rebutted by a showing of the facts and circumstances in the case and shall not preclude a determination that these facts and circumstances justify leaving the entire right, title and interest in and to the invention in the government employee, subject to law.

(4) In any case wherein the Government neither (i) obtains the entire domestic right, title, and interest in and to an invention pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (b)(1) of this section, nor (ii) reserves a nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license in the invention, with power to grant sublicenses for all governmental purposes, pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this section, the Solicitor, subject to the approval of the Commissioner, shall leave the entire right, title, and interest in and to the invention in the employee, subject to law.

(c) In the event that the Solicitor determines, pursuant to paragraph (b) (2) or (4) of this section, that title to an invention will be left with an employee, the Solicitor shall notify the employee of this determination and promptly prepare, and preserve in appropriate files, accessible to the Commissioner, a written signed, and dated statement concerning the invention including the following:

(1) A description of the invention in sufficient detail to identify the invention and show the relationship to the employee's duties and work assignment;

(2) The name of the employee and his employment status, including a detailed statement of his official duties and responsibilities at the time the invention was made; and

(3) A statement of the Solicitor's determination and reasons therefor. The Solicitor shall, subject to considerations of national security, or public health, safety, or welfare, submit to the Commissioner a copy of this written statement. This submittal in a case falling within the provisions of paragraph (b) (2) of this section shall be made after the expiration of the period prescribed in § 6.6 for the taking of an appeal, or it may be made prior to the expiration of such period if the employees acquiesces in the Solicitor's determination. The Commissioner thereupon shall review the determination of the Solicitor and the Commissioner's decision respecting the matter shall be final, subject to the right of the employee or the Solicitor to submit to the Commissioner within 30 days (or such longer period as the Commissioner may, for good cause, shown in writing, fix in any case) after receiving notice of such decision, a petition for the reconsideration of the decision. A copy of such petition must also be filed by the inventor with the Solicitor within the prescribed period.

§ 6.6 - Appeals by employees.

(a) Any employee who is aggrieved by a determination of the Solicitor pursuant to § 6.5(b) (1) or (2) may obtain a review of the determination by filing, within 30 days (or such longer period as the Commissioner may for good cause shown in writing, fix in any case) after receiving notice of such determination, two copies of an appeal with the Commissioner. The Commissioner then shall forward one copy of the appeal to the Solicitor.

(b) On receipt of a copy of an appeal filed pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the Solicitor shall, subject to considerations of national security, or public health, safety, or welfare, promptly furnish both the Commissioner and the inventor with a copy of a report containing the following information about the invention involved in the appeal:

(1) A copy of a statement containing the information specified in § 6.5(c), and

(2) A detailed statement of the points of dispute or controversy, together with copies of any statements or written arguments that may have been filed, and of any other relevant evidence that the Solicitor considered in making his determination of Government interest. Within 25 days (or such longer period as the Commissioner may, for good cause shown, fix in any case) after the transmission of a copy of the Solicitor's report to the employee, the employee may file a reply thereto with the Commissioner and file one copy thereof with the Solicitor.

(c) After the time for the employee's reply to the Solicitor's report has expired and if the employee has so requested in his appeal, a date will be set for the hearing of oral arguments by the employee (or by an attorney whom he designates by written power of attorney filed before, or at the hearing) and the Solicitor. Unless it shall be otherwise ordered before the hearing begins, oral arguments will be limited to thirty minutes for each side. The employee need not retain an attorney or request an oral hearing to secure full consideration of the facts and his arguments. He may expedite such consideration by notifying the Commissioner when he does not intend to file a reply to the Solicitor's report.

(d) After a hearing on the appeal, if a hearing was requested, or after expiration of the period for the inventor's reply to the Solicitor's report, if no hearing is set, the Commissioner shall issue a decision on the matter, which decision shall be final after the period for asking reconsideration expires or on the date that a decision on a petition for reconsideration is finally disposed of. Any request for reconsideration or modification of the decision must be filed within 30 days from the date of the original decision (or within such an extension thereof as may be set by the Commissioner before the original period expires). The Com- missioner's decision shall be made after consideration of the statements of fact in the employee's appeal, the Solicitor's report, and the employee's reply, but the Commissioner, at his discretion and with due respect to the rights and convenience of the inventor and the Solicitor, may call for further statements on specific questions of fact or may request additional evidence in the form of affidavits or depositions on specific facts in dispute.

§ 6.7 - Domestic patent protection.

(a) The Solicitor, upon determining that an invention coming within the scope of § 6.5(b) (1) or (2) has been made, shall thereupon determine whether patent protection will be sought in the United States by the Department for such invention. A controversy over the respective rights of the Government and of the inventor in any case shall not delay the taking of the actions provided for in this section. In cases coming within the scope of § 6.5(b)(2), action by the Department looking toward such patent protection shall be contingent upon the consent of the inventor.

(b) Where there is a dispute as to whether paragraph (b) (1) or (2) of § 6.5 applies in determining the respective rights of the Government and of an employee in and to any invention, the Solicitor will determine whether patent protection will be sought in the United States pending the Commissioner's decision on the dispute, and, if he determines that an application for patent should be filed, he will take such rights as are specified in § 6.5(b)(2), but this shall be without prejudice to acquiring the rights specified in § 6.5(b)(1) should the Commissioner so decide.

(c) Where the Solicitor has determined to leave title to an invention with an employee under § 6.5(b)(2), the Solicitor will, upon the filing of an application for patent and pending review of the determination by the Commissioner, take the rights specified in that paragraph, without prejudice to the subsequent acquisition by the Government of the rights specified in § 6.5(b)(1) should the Commissioner so decide.

(d) In the event that the Solicitor determines that an application for patent will not be filed on an invention made under the circumstances specified in § 6.5(b)(1) giving the United States the right to title thereto, the Solicitor shall subject to considerations of national security, or public health, safety, or welfare, report to the Commissioner promptly upon making such determination, the following information concerning the invention:

(1) Description of the invention in sufficient detail to permit a satisfactory review;

(2) Name of the inventor and his employment status;

(3) Statement of the Solicitor's determination and reasons therefor.

The Commissioner, may, if he determines that the interest of the Government so requires and subject to considerations of national security, or public health safety, or welfare, bring the invention to the attention of any Government agency to whose activities the invention may be pertinent, or cause the invention to be fully disclosed by publication thereof.
§ 6.8 - Foreign filing.

(a) By Government. (1) In every case where the employee has indicated pursuant to § 6.2(d)(10), his willingness to assign the domestic patent rights in the invention to the Government, or where it has been determined pursuant to § 6.5 that the Government shall obtain the entire domestic patent rights, the Government shall reserve an option to acquire assignment of all foreign rights including the rights to file foreign patent applications or otherwise to seek protection abroad on the invention.

(2) The Government's option shall lapse as regards any foreign country:

(i) When the Solicitor determines after consultation with the agency most directly concerned, not to cause an application to be filed in said foreign country or otherwise to seek protection of the invention, as by publication;

(ii) When the Solicitor fails to take action to seek protection of the invention in said foreign country (a) within six months of the filing of an application for a United States patent on the invention, or (b) within six months of declassification of an invention previously under a security classification, whichever is later.

(b) By Employee. (1) No Department employee shall file or cause to be filed an application for patent in any foreign country on any invention in which the Government has acquired the entire (foreign and domestic) patent rights, or holds an unexpired option to acquire the patent rights in said foreign country, or take any steps which would preclude the filing of an application by or on behalf of the Government.

(2) An employee may file in any foreign country where the Government has not exercised its option acquired pursuant to § 6.2(d)(10), to do so, or determines not to do so.

(3) The determination or failure to act as set forth in § 6.8(a)(2) shall constitute a decision by the Government to leave the foreign patent rights to the invention in the employee, subject to a nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the Government in any patent which may issue thereon in any foreign country, including the power to issue sublicenses for governmental purposes or in furtherance of the foreign policies of the Government or both.

§ 6.9 - Publication and public use of invention before patent application is filed.

(a) Publication or public use of an invention constitutes a statutory bar to the granting of a patent for the invention unless a patent application is filed within one year of the date of such publication or public use. In order to preserve rights in unpatented inventions, it shall be the duty of the inventor, or of his supervisor if the inventor is not available to make such report, to report forthwith to the Solicitor any publication or use (other than experimental) of an invention, irrespective of whether an invention report has previously been filed. If an invention report has not been filed, such a report, including information concerning the public use or publication, shall be filed at once. If an invention is disclosed to any person who is not employed by the Department or working in cooperation with the Department upon that invention, a record shall be kept of the date and extent of the disclosure, the name and address of the person to whom the disclosure was made, and the purpose of the disclosure.

(b) No description, specification, plan, or drawing of any unpatented invention upon which a patent application is likely to be filed shall be published, nor shall any written description, specification, plan, or drawing of such invention be furnished to anyone other than an employee of the Department or a person working in cooperation with the Department upon that invention, unless the Solicitor is of the opinion that the interests of the Government will not be prejudiced by such action. If any publication disclosing the invention, not previously approved by the Solicitor, comes to the attention of the inventor or his supervisor, it shall be the duty of such person to report such publication to the Solicitor.

§ 6.10 - Publicity concerning the invention after patent application is filed.

In order that the public may obtain the greatest possible benefit from inventions in which the Secretary has transferable interests, inventions assigned to the Secretary upon which patent applications have been filed shall be publicized as widely as possible, within limitations of authority, by the Department, by the originating agency, by the division in which the inventor is employed, and by the inventor himself in his contacts with industries in which the invention is or may be useful. Regular organs of publication shall be utilized to the greatest extent possible. In addition, it shall be the duty of the Solicitor, upon being advised of the issuance of any patent assigned to the Secretary, to take steps towards listing the patent as available for licensing, where feasible.

§ 6.11 - Condition of employment.

(a) The regulations in this subpart shall be a condition of employment of all employees of the Department and shall be effective as to all their inventions. These regulations shall be effective without regard to any existing or future contracts to the contrary entered into by any employee of the Department with any person other than the Government.

(b) If a patent application is filed upon an invention which has been made by an employee of the Department under circumstances that entitle the Government to the entire domestic right, title and interest in and to the invention, but which has not been reported to the Solicitor pursuant to the regulations in this subpart, title to such invention shall immediately vest in the Government, as represented by the Secretary, and the contract of employment shall be considered an assignment of such rights.

authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; sec. 2, Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1950, 15 FR 3174; E.O. 10096, 15 FR 389; and E.O. 10930, 26 FR 2583
source: 29 FR 260, Jan. 10, 1964; 29 FR 6498, May 19, 1964, unless otherwise noted.
cite as: 43 CFR 6.10