CCiCap Space Act Agreements: Keep your IP Rights, If You Want To

Traditional cost-plus and FAR contracting serves NASA well with traditional contractors when budgets were more flexible. In many areas where the contractor will do the majority of the development and innovation, traditional contracting approaches fail because NASA is a title taking agency. As a title taking agency, anything intellectual property developed under a traditional NASA contract belongs to NASA. Traditionally, this has discouraged innovative companies from working with NASA.

Under NASA’s COTS, CCDev and CCiCap programs, unmanned space freighters and astronaut-carrying space taxis are currently under development by several innovative companies. Substantial development has been done by these companies which are valuable from the perspective of working with NASA, but potentially more valuable in the commercial sector. The use of Space Act Agreements and providing a clear path to returning ownership of intellectual property to the companies doing the development has played a pivotal role in making these programs successful from NASA’s standpoint and from a commercial standpoint. Let’s take a look at the structure of these agreements and how they are being implemented.

Continue reading

CubeSats With A View Require NOAA Licensing

Examples of remote sensing images collected by satellites. Image credit:NOAA.

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.

Continue reading

One Spark Event may Ignite your Space Startup

I am based in Jacksonville, Florida, which is an awesome place that no one really knows about. We have nice weather, beaches, the river, tons of sports teams, a spaceport, and the jet stream (knock on wood) keeps hurricanes at bay! And just down the coast is the Cape and the rest of the Space Coast! Jacksonville also has a fast growing creative community which is committed to getting the word out about our fair city. Just to name a few things, Jacksonville has a great coworking space called CoWork Jax, a makerspace called JaxHax, and an upcoming TEDx event, TEDxRiversideAvondale.

In April, Jacksonville will be hosting the first ever One Spark event and I think every New Space company and New Space enthusiast should come! Why? Because One Spark is set to become a huge event where creative people and companies can exhibit their innovations and receive funding from a $250,000 crowdfund! If you can’t come, check out their Kickstarter! Continue reading

The Lay of the US Patent Land: From application to expiration (Part 1 of 2)

Photo credit: Pavel Novak.

For many inventors, engineers, and emerging technology companies, condensing a flash of genius into a new invention or engineering a solution to a problem is the easiest, most familiar step in the patenting process. The climb up the US Patent Mountain, as it were, can be a long, treacherous one. Or it can be a quick sprint, if you’re willing to pay the Patent Office extra fees. With that in mind, let me be your patent Sherpa, explaining the process and walking you through the general steps.

The patent process extends from before an application is filed until the patent expires. We can think of the patenting process as a mountain climb where the patent issues once we reach the summit. But just like an Everest climb, where most deaths occur on the way down the mountain, more than 50% of issued patents expire before the end of their 20 year term. What does the rest of the journey look like? Read on!

Continue reading