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The U.S. government has established data rights regulations that apply both to “technical data” and computer software produced during the performance of government contracts. The term technical data includes research and development data, engineering drawings, manuals and any other recorded information of a scientific or technical nature that is proprietary to the government contractor. The data rights regulations provide the federal government with the right to access and utilize computer software and technical data that belongs to government contractors. The regulations also establish conditions under which contractors can maintain rights in their software and data against the government.
The data rights regulations have been described as “some of the most complicated regulations in the government procurement system.” In brief, however, when technical data and computer software are developed by a contractor exclusively with federal funds, the United States enjoys “unlimited rights” to use the information and freely disclose it to others. In other circumstances, however, the government obtains more restrictive rights to use contractor technical data and software. For example, if the government has funded only part of the costs of developing technical data, and the contractor indicates that the data is confidential, then in some circumstances the government has a reduced ability to share the data with others and must maintain the data as confidential.
- ↑ See Lionel M. Lavenue, “Technical Data Rights in Government Procurement: Intellectual Property Rights in Computer Software and the Indicia of Information Systems and Information Technology,” 32 Univ. of S.F. L. Rev. 1 (1997).
- ↑ 48 C.F.R. §27.401 (2002).
- ↑ See generally Leonard Rawicz & Ralph C. Nash, Jr., Intellectual Property in Government Contracts: Technical Data Rights (CCH 2001).
- ↑ Lavenue, at 31.
- ↑ 10 U.S.C. §2320(a)(2)(A).
- ↑ Lavenue, at 58-64.