Intellectual Property Stewardship Guide for Transportation Departments

The transportation research community is charged with finding solutions to important problems. Those solutions often involve new processes and technology which represent intellectual property with potential economic value. Among countries visited in the recent FHWA/AASHTO International Scan on Transportation Research Program Administration, the transportation research community demonstrated a noticeably greater concern for the value and importance of intellectual property than is sometimes evident in the United States. Safeguarding intellectual property was recognized as a critical component of the entire research process to spur innovation, encourage investment for technology development and refinement, and foster commercialization nationally and internationally. Ultimately, intellectual property was seen as a means to bolster national economies by promoting creation of companies that hire new employees and sell new products. Successful management of intellectual property rights was associated with greater trade and foreign investment opportunities globally. In the United States, transportation agencies have traditionally taken the position that they should retain rights to intellectual property derived from research they sponsor. While the intent of this policy has been to maintain public ownership of intellectual property, a frequent unintended result has been to impede development. Agencies have often lacked the knowledge, resources, and impetus to commercialize technology or license it to others. In the absence of intellectual property protection, private concerns have been reluctant to invest further in its development. In contrast, organizations visited during the scan viewed protection and licensing of intellectual property as an essential enabler of technology deployment. Furthermore, many transportation agencies in the United States lack effective policies regarding employees' rights to intellectual property. For example, some agencies specify that any new product or idea that relates to agency goals and objectives is owned by the agency, and require employees to assign their intellectual property rights to the government. Undefined policies or policies that preclude employees sharing intellectual property rights create little incentive for innovation. A significant barrier to more effective management of intellectual property is the lack of understanding within transportation agencies regarding domestic and intellectual property law and policy. Although the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 (or University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act) governs intellectual property developed in federally sponsored research, it only establishes a general framework. State laws and policies may impose additional requirements that apply to non-federally sponsored research or research performed by government employees. Federal and state agencies often lack expertise on the fairly complicated and sometimes expensive processes needed to secure and protect intellectual property. This situation has worsened in some agencies due to retirements of experienced staff and changes in agency policy. Without the necessary working knowledge, agencies are unable to develop and execute effective strategies for exploiting their intellectual property investments. An extensive literature addresses issues of intellectual property and technology transfer for federal laboratories and agencies engaged in development of medical, defense, aerospace, and other advanced-technology systems. While a few state transportation agencies have developed intellectual property policies, there is a general lack of knowledge within DOTs regarding identification and management of the resource. Research is needed to develop practical guidance that transportation agencies--in particular, their research and legal offices--can use to effectively manage intellectual property. The objective of this research will be to develop a guide on effective stewardship of intellectual property for public transportation agencies. The research to accomplish this objective might include the following tasks: (1) review of literature, including domestic and key international law, relating to the management of intellectual property in the areas of transportation and transportation research; (2) survey of practices of domestic and international transportation agencies to identify best practices as well as unsatisfied needs regarding management of intellectual property; (3) review of similarities and differences among states' intellectual property policies and identify those that may require legislative or policy enhancements; (4) review of practices for managing intellectual property in other technical and scientific disciplines that could be applicable to transportation and transportation research; (5) development of case studies that illustrate effective processes for managing intellectual property; (6) development of a guidance document on effective management of intellectual property for transportation research professionals in state and federal agencies; and (7) development of training based upon the guidance document on effective management of intellectual property for presentation to transportation research professionals.</font></p>


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $350000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-89

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Lemer, Andrew

  • Start Date: 20100618
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 26557

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01463901
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-89
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:32PM