Posts Tagged licensing
Every satellite–from school bus-sized communications behemoths, to super-secret spy satellites, to tiny CubeSats–has to make it through a gauntlet of documentation and approvals before they ever fly. This is understandable since even something as small as a 1 kilogram CubeSat can pack a mighty wallop after it is accelerated to an orbital velocity of 17,000+ mph!
Satellites and other spacecraft have to be registered under the Registration Convention, launch range safety approvals have to be wrangled, and FAA licensure must be addressed.
Depending on the type of satellite being launched, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gets in on the game, too! Earth gazing and other remote sensing satellites, including CubeSats observing the earth, must pass a NOAA licensing process. The good news for CubeSat developers is that NOAA often goes out of its way to accommodate the needs of private satellite developers and operators.
Pierce Brosnan declared the plot of his 1999 James Bond film The World is Not Enough convoluted and mystifying, a suitable description of Cold War villain-based movies more than a decade after the Cold War had effectively expired from hypothermia. At first glance, “convoluted and mystifying” is also an apt description for licensing deals. The beauty of a license is also its curse. You can make the license look almost any way you want, granting virtually unlimited rights or giving only the slimmest of rights to use the covered invention in Palatka, Florida on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. It is extremely important to consider each and every word in a license agreement in terms of how the technology involved will actually be used. For example, consider the following language that might appear in an R&D contract for the development of a new type of RCS thruster for satellites: the Satellite Manufacturer “shall retain a nonexclusive royalty-free license [to the developed technology] throughout the world.” What good does a merely worldwide license for a new RCS thruster do a satellite manufacturer? They need a license that actually applies to where they will use the developed technology: outer space. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1982, the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant program was launched. Since then, small technology companies have received more than $26 billion to develop and commercialize new technologies. The SBIR program is designed to spur technological innovation, satisfy Federal R&D needs, and increase commercialization of technologies derived from Federal R&D. Eleven Federal agencies, including DARPA, NASA, and the DoD, participate in the SBIR program. These agencies must spend at least a portion of their annual R&D budgets on SBIR programs.
In order to qualify as a small business, the US company must have fewer than 500 employees and meet a few other criteria. Qualified small businesses are given money in phases to develop new technologies based on their proposed solution to R&D prompts issued by participating agencies. This research and development generally leads to the development of new technologies, some of which are patentable. To find out who owns the patent rights, and what obligations a small business has under SBIR grants, Read the rest of this entry »
NASA and its commercial partners develop a wide variety of cutting edge technologies. Would you expect much else from nine centers filled with more than 18,000 employees? That much brain power focused on the black unknown is bound to produce some pretty awesome ideas, inventions, and technologies, even if NASA doesn’t always have the money or support to fully develop and utilize the technologies. In fact, NASA has over 1,000 patents and patent applications covering a plethora of technology areas. NASA has been directed to promote rapid development and commercialization of technologies it develops via commercial partnerships. What happens when NASA doesn’t have the resources to implement a new technology it has developed? NASA offers these inventions to the public via its Patent Licensing Program (PLP).
Well known companies such as Bigelow Aerospace have been founded on technologies licensed through this program. Click through to learn more about the process of accessing NASA-developed technologies as a private enterprise. Read the rest of this entry »
Like many emerging technology fields, the commercial spaceflight industry has a long close relationship with their patent attorneys. Patents are an excellent way for companies to maintain the hard-won competitive edge the skull sweat of their R&D group has created. Even before man made it to space, patents and patent applications have been filed on a variety of space-related technologies including: rocket steering systems (filed 1952!), escape tower rockets (filed 1959 on behalf of NASA), and sea-based recovery of space launch vehicles (filed 2009 by Blue Origin). Intellectual property rights protect new technologies and provide a potential avenue for royalty profits through licensing. What is a license, you ask, and how can it boost the company bottom line? Read the rest of this entry »