Facilitate the participation of private sector technology companies in the deployment of ITS by using creative approaches to address the assignment of intellectual property rights.

Arizona and Washington’s experiences resolving intellectual property rights issues in the development and use of information technologies in ITS applications.

Phoenix,Arizona,United States; Seattle,Washington,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

Address intellectual property rights issues and questions of ownership of software and technology developed or enhanced during the course of the project through creative approaches. For example:
  • Licensing Agreements: Develop licensing agreements that clearly assign the intended intellectual property rights to hardware and software technologies. For example, representatives from the AZTech model deployment developed two licensing agreements: one for preexisting technologies and privately funded developments and another for hardware and software developed during the course of the Model Deployment Initiative using public funds. The license for preexisting technologies and developments allowed public sector participants to make limited use of preexisting products. The private sector firm grants a “non-transferable, non-exclusive five-year license to use the software, data and/or documentation...solely for use on the AZTech Model Deployment Initiative.” The license for products developed during the course of the Model Deployment Initiative grants the public sector “royalty-free, non-exclusive, and irrevocable license to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use…the federal government funded software, data, and/or documentation…solely for official federal government purposes.”
  • Intellectual Property Manual: Develop formal procedures for addressing intellectual property issues. For example, TxDOT’s management established an Intellectual Property Committee at its Austin Headquarters. This committee evaluated TxDOT’s needs, made recommendations, and issued guidance to clarify TxDOT’s policy on the ownership and use of intellectual property developed and used on projects funded by TxDOT. This guidance provides agency standards regarding TxDOT ownership of intellectual property that is widely accessible to employees in an electronic format. Further, the standards are incorporated into requests for proposals or other agency contracting processes.
  • Federal Government Policy: Use FHWA intellectual property rights policies to negotiate terms and conditions with private sector IT providers. For example, in order to resolve intellectual property rights concerns between the public and private sector participants in the AZTech Model Deployment Initiative, the parties requested that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) clarify the Federal Government’s policy on proprietary information. As explained in a letter from FHWA’s Associate Chief Counsel for General Law (included in the report), the FHWA’s use of the copyrightable or patentable products developed by the private sector is limited to FHWA projects with non-commercial purposes. In short, whatever the private sector representatives bring to the project remains their property. Software brought to the project and enhanced throughout the course of the project is federal property, although the private sector representatives retain titles to the patents for these products.

Representatives from the AZTech Model Deployment Initiative indicated that the letter from the FHWA counsel was essential to resolving intellectual property rights issues relative to software developed during the course of the project. Lewis said, “The letter from FHWA counsel clarified the policy on the FHWA’s use of enhanced technologies developed with federal funds. Included in all contracts between the public and private sectors, the letter resolved concerns of both sectors.”

Resolve intellectual property rights questions early to increase efficiency: In both the AZTech and TransGuide Model Deployment Initiatives, questions of intellectual property extended project negotiations. Only when these questions were answered were the project participants able to proceed with the business of deploying their systems. Resolving these issues allowed project participants to spend time on technical, rather than policy and procedural issues.

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What's Yours, Mine, and Ours: Overcoming Intellectual Property Rights Issues: Facilitating Private Sector Participation and Expediting Performance.

Author: Allan DeBlasio (Volpe Center)

Published By: ITS JPO

Source Date: 8/1/2000

EDL Number: 11486

Other Reference Number: FHWA-JPO-99-021 FTA-TRI-11-99-11

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/2865

Lesson Contacts

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Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


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Lesson ID: 2005-00101