[From the introductory sections of the book].
A number of information services and sources which can provide further information about government inventions, technology transfers and research activities are described below. Your own organization's library/information center or licensing office may be the best place to seek assistance and further information.
Other information resources which provide access to federal technologies are described in the introductory sections of agency/laboratory chapters. For example, the Technology Transfer Information Center, National Agricultural Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Regional Technology Transfer Centers (RTTCs) operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, may serve as excellent sources for free information and assistance concerning technology transfer opportunities from these agencies.
Patents and Patent Databases
Copies of U.S. patents are available from a number of sources. Full copies of patents may be ordered for $3 each from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), with only the patent numbers required. The PTO also publishes the Patent Gazette reporting newly issued patents with the exemplary claim(s) on a weekly basis. For further information or to order PTO publications contact:
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Crystal Plaza 3, Lobby Level
2021 Jefferson Davis Highway
Washington, DC 20231
Most states have one or more federally-supported and publicly accessible Patent Depository Libraries (PDLs), usually located within university or other large research libraries. These libraries retain copies of issued U.S. patents, usually on microfilm, and offer free use of the CASSIS database on CD-ROM. The CASSIS database contains abstracts, patent classification, assignment and other bibliographic data for U.S patents. Copies of the weekly Patent Gazette are also available for use in PDLs. A listing of PDLs is presented in Figure 1 at the end of this section. These libraries may also be able to provide searches of commercial patent and other databases for a fee or can refer you to those who provide these services in your area.
Various document delivery services, including many specializing in patents, are available. These may be located using your local phone directory "Yellow Pages" or by contacting research, corporate or PDL libraries for referrals. Prices and levels of service which are provided vary greatly. Document delivery services can also often provide copies of foreign patent applications and scientific, government and other publications. Many patent database vendors, including DIALOG, MicroPatent and Rapid Patent (discussed below), provide patent document delivery services.
Various commercial online databases provide access to U.S. patents and equivalent foreign patent applications. These include: the CLAIMS and U.S. Patents databases providing abstracts/claims for U.S. patents; the Derwent World Patents Index (WPI) databases which provide abstracts and indexing for families of equivalent patent applications and patents in most of the major patent-granting countries; and the INPADOC, EPAT, ESPACE, PHARMSEARCH and other databases which provide information about foreign, mostly European, patent applications and their status. Subject-oriented databases also often provide coverage of international patent applications and U.S. patents. These include: Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) databases; BIOSIS and BIOBUSINESS; and the Derwent Biotechnology Abstracts and Derwent Drug File (formerly RINGDOC). These and other bibliographic databases provide coverage of biomedical and biotechnology-related patent applications and patents, besides comprehensively providing abstracts for literature articles and publications in their areas of coverage. Several online databases providing access to the full text of U.S. patents are available. Other databases provide access to changes in patent status and reassignments (e.g., CLAIMS Reassignments and the LITALERT database covering patent litigation), Japanese patents (e.g., JAPIO), the U.S. patent classification system (e.g., CLAIMS Classification), and other aspects of U.S. and international patents and patent applications.
Foreign patent protection, particularly major markets in Europe and other countries, is often sought for many, if not most, federal inventions. Unlike the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the patent offices in most foreign countries publish patent applications at a certain point after their filing (usually 18 months). Until a U.S. patent is granted, these full copies of foreign patent applications are likely to be the best available source for full invention disclosures. Foreign patent application information was not used during development of this Directory, and this information can be very useful to those seeking further information about recent federal patent applications. Those with serious licensing or competitive concerns are encouraged to search for the availability of equivalent foreign (and English language) patent disclosures, particularly for patent applications older than 18 months. Copies of foreign patent applications may be ordered through some libraries or through commercial document delivery services.
Identification of foreign patent applications and patents generally requires use of commercial databases (discussed above). Equivalent foreign patent applications may be retrieved from these databases using information provided in this Directory, such as patent titles, inventors, U.S. application numbers and subject-related keywords. Major online database vendors offer many of the patent databases mentioned above, NTIS (discussed below), and other databases. Some major patent database vendors in the U.S. and their U.S. toll-free phone numbers include:
ORBIT/InfoPro Technologies (800-456-7248)
STN International (800-848-6538)
Knowledge Express (800-248-2469) is a unique online database system providing access to various federal technology transfer and research related databases, including the NTIS database, agency/laboratory databases of federal invention disclosures, the Federal Research in Progress database and others. The system also offers artificial intelligence searching capabilities to improve retrieval of related entries. Another unique online system providing access to some federal databases is BEST North America (410-563-2378).
Many patent databases are now also available for purchase in CD-ROM format, including CD-ROM databases offering patent full text or abstracts/claims published by MicroPatent (800-648-6787) and Rapid Patent (800-444-0799). Many states and localities now have business development and technology transfer/outreach programs which offer information services which may include patent and other database searches.
National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
The National Technical Information Service (NTIS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the main source for federal agency and laboratory technical reports and publications, often including research and development project reports and agency disclosures of patent applications. The NTIS database contains abstracts for over 1.7 million documents available for purchase. NTIS often sells copies of "nonenabling disclosures" of federal inventions. These usually contain the text of patent applications but without the official claims. Like foreign patent filings, these are among the best available sources for information concerning pending federal patent applications. The NTIS database often contains multiple abstracts concerning the same federal inventions with records for various patent application continuations and eventually the issued patents. The NTIS database is readily available through multiple online database vendors (see above) and larger research libraries may now have it available for searching, usually free, in CD-ROM format. Note, the NTIS uses its own notation for patent application numbers, e.g., 07/637,074 (as used in this Directory) is presented as PAT-APPL-7-637 074 in the NTIS database.
The NTIS database includes invention disclosures voluntarily forwarded to NTIS by federal agencies/laboratories. As discussed below, most federal technology transfer offices at all levels are overworked and/or not oriented or able to make regular public disclosures of invention-related information. In general, NTIS invention disclosures are only available for <= 50% of inventions described in this Directory, and NTIS coverage of invention disclosures within the scope of this Directory has been decreasing in recent years. Coverage is rather good for certain periods in the 1980s and for certain agencies/laboratories (generally those for which NTIS handled licensing; see the Center for Utilization of Federal Technology section in the Department of Commerce introduction). There is no apparent way to predict which invention disclosures from which agencies/laboratories can be found in the database. Because one never knows what valuable information may be found there, the NTIS database (along with others) should always be searched by those with serious licensing or other federal invention information needs.
NTIS publishes various directories and periodicals concerning federal laboratories and inventions. Several publications provide cumulative and periodic updating of federal invention disclosures added to the NTIS database:
* NTIS Alert on Government Inventions for Licensing, order no. PB93-909000/CAU, twice-monthly, $250/year. This periodical presents abstracts for federal invention disclosures and patents added to the NTIS database. Subscription includes a copy of the annual cumulation of these invention abstracts (described in next entry).
* Catalog of Government Inventions Available for Licensing, order no. PB93-128205/CAU for 1992 edition, issued annually, $59 (request latest edition). Includes abstracts and indexes for the 1,000+ federal inventions reported by NTIS annually.
* The Directory of U.S. Government Inventions, order no. PB93-106250, 1,480 pages, $225. This is a compilation of the nearly 10,000 federal invention disclosures in the NTIS database from 1981-1990. Includes keyword and other indexes.
* NTIS Tech Notes, $205/year. This is a monthly collection of miscellaneous agency/laboratory fact sheets concerning federal technologies in various subject areas including "Medicine & Biology."
Another NTIS publication is a directory of federal laboratories and their resources and expertise:
* Directory of Federal Laboratory & Technology Resources, order no. PB93-100097, $130. This 736-page directory provides descriptions, contacts and indexes for 1,100 federal scientific laboratories and resources.
For help in identifying NTIS publications for purchase or other information, call 703-487-4780. To order NTIS publications or to request free publications catalogs contact:
NTIS Sales Desk
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22161
Phone: 703-487-4650; FAX: 703-321-8548 (or -9038)
NTIS has recently implemented the FEDWORLD online gateway to over 100 federal agency database and bulletin board systems. Connecting to FEDWORLD via a modem enables one to network into various federal agency bulletin boards and databases. A file of NTIS invention disclosures and other NTIS databases are available. For information contact NTIS (see above) and request document no. PR-936 (no cost) or call the FEDWORLD office at 703-487-4609.
National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC)
The National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) serves as a gateway for those interested in federal technology transfer and research. NTTC provides referrals and information available by phone/FAX. NTTC offers a free online bulletin board and database system including announcements of selected new federal technologies (Business Gold), directories of federal laboratories and contacts, and electronic mail and bulletin board services.
NTTC is especially useful as a contact point for referrals to appropriate federal laboratories (much like the FLC described below). NTTC can also answer questions concerning federal technology transfer, laboratories, and specialized facilities and research resources. NTTC publishes a free newsletter, a compilation of federal technology transfer laws and other publications. NTTC also provides training and sponsors meetings concerning federal technology transfer and related topics. For further information contact:
National Technology Transfer Center
Wheeling Jesuit College
Wheeling, WV 26003
Phone: 800-678-6882 or 304-243-2456
Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC)
The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) serves a number of functions to promote and coordinate federal technology transfer. The FLC primarily facilitates networking among its members (federal technology transfer offices) and provides assistance to those seeking to enter this network to locate federal laboratories and technology transfer opportunities. The FLC Locator service provides referrals to federal laboratories and individuals offering specialized federal laboratory expertise, facilities and technology transfer opportunities. In many respects, the referral/information services available from the FLC are similar to those provided by the NTTC (discussed above). Both can assist inquirers in contacting the right person or resource to receive information or assistance.
Federal law mandates that all major federal laboratories participate in the FLC. The FLC may be accessed at the local, regional or national level, generally by contacting the technology transfer offices listed in the introductory sections for each agency presented in this Directory or most any other federal technology transfer office. Depending on your needs or problems, you may be referred to the FLC headquarters, Regional Coordinators, pertinent laboratories or other contacts for further assistance.
The FLC publishes a free newsletter and other publications including federal technology transfer handbooks. The FLC sponsors semiannual meetings, including one meeting/year where industry representatives are invited. The FLC (and NTTC) may be particularly useful in areas not covered by this Directory, such as the physical sciences, chemistry and engineering (since most FLC members and most federal research and development concerns defense and associated industrial technologies conducted by laboratories managed by DOD, DOE and NASA). For further information or to use the FLC Locator network contact:
Federal Laboratory Consortium
P.O. Box 545
Sequim, WA 98282-0545
Phone: 206-683-1005; FAX: 206-683-6654
Federal Research Publications
Further and complementary information concerning nearly all of the inventions and research in this Directory can usually be found in the scientific literature. Researchers in the federal laboratories are generally no different from scientific researchers in academia and nonprofit research institutions--their primary goal is the development of scientific knowledge and its publication in peer-reviewed and other publications. Bibliographic databases and abstracting services can provide considerable additional information concerning federal inventions, research performed under CRADAs, and about the other research of inventors and federal laboratories.
Where scientific publications involve new discoveries or patentable inventions, most federal agencies/laboratories have procedures in place for prompt review of internal invention reports and drafts of scientific publications, presentations and public disclosures. This is because of concerns about obtaining patent protection in foreign countries for significant inventions. The U.S. patent system allows a one-year grace period from the first public disclosure of an invention until filing of a U.S. patent application. However, nearly all foreign countries have no such grace period and consider any public disclosure of an invention, such as publication or presentation, prior to filing of a patent application as grounds for rejecting a patent.
Most of the major federal research-conducting agencies have libraries/information centers which produce one or more databases covering that agency's areas of interest and its own research. These are often excellent and cost-effective sources for additional information about federal inventor and laboratory publications. Most of these agency bibliographic databases also include invention disclosures. Examples include the AGRICOLA database from the National Agricultural Library and the Energy Science and Technology database from the Department of Energy. Each of these would be a good starting point to search for publications by researchers from these agencies. Besides often being among the most comprehensive and best in their fields, these federal bibliographic databases are usually less expensive than other commercial databases (which have their own advantages). Most of these databases are available from commercial online database vendors (discussed above).
The only major research agency not producing a bibliographic or other database which includes agency invention disclosures is the Public Health Service (PHS), Department of Health and Human Services. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) does produce the MEDLINE database, but this covers only several thousand of the world's major peer-reviewed or mainstream biomedical journals. MEDLINE, with its excellent indexing, quality control and low cost, should be searched when one is concerned with PHS or any biomedical or basic biological research. The CANCERLIT (cancer-related literature) and the TOXLINE (toxicology-related literature) databases from NLM are comprehensive in coverage within their subject areas, but do not include agency or other inventions in these fields.
Hundreds of bibliographic and other commercially-produced databases are available and include information about federal researcher and laboratory publications. Scientific databases (and equivalent published abstract periodicals) with broad coverage in the biomedical and life sciences include: BIOSIS (Biological Abstracts); EMBASE (Excerpta Medica); Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) databases; SCISEARCH (Science Citation Index); Life Sciences Collection; and others. A number of bibliographic and other databases are also available concerning pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other commercial activities. Examples include Abstracts in BioCommerce; BIOBUSINESS; PTS PROMT; Pharmaceutical News Index; and other databases including coverage of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and commercial trade and newsletter literature.
Federal Agencies/Laboratories as Sources
Federal agencies and laboratories offer a variety of information and research resources to facilitate technology transfer. Federal technical information centers, clearinghouses, database systems and other information resources can be located by contacting the NTTC or FLC (described above) or through agency/laboratory libraries, technology transfer or public information offices. Directories, reports, bibliographies and other information concerning federal agency and laboratory research activities, resources and information services are often available free upon request to the appropriate office.
Public information and press offices at federal laboratories may sometimes be the best sources for agency/laboratory descriptive materials and to answer inquiries not specifically concerning technology transfer. Every federal agency and laboratory has an office (or person) designated as the public information contact, and these offices may be contacted to learn about available agency/laboratory-specific publications and information resources.
Some directories of federal laboratories and technology transfer resources include:
* Directory of Federal Laboratory & Technology Resources. This is the most comprehensive directory of laboratories and research resources available (discussed in the NTIS section above).
* Tapping Federal Technology: Inventions, Expertise, and Facilities, Federal Laboratory Consortium Handbook Series No. 3, by K. Hayes, Federal Laboratory Consortium, Sequim, WA, September 1992, 220 pages, $18. (See FLC section above for contact information). This book describes over 150 federal sources for technology transfer and other technical information and assistance.
* From Laboratory to the Marketplace: A Technology Transfer Guide to Federal and University Resources in Suburban Maryland and Washington, D.C. This book includes an introduction to federal technology transfer; a 100 page section with descriptions of federal technology transfer sources and laboratories in the Washington, DC area; and other useful information. Coverage includes major PHS/NIH, USDA, Army, Navy and other large research laboratories located near Washington, D.C. (which together provide over 75% of the entries in this Directory). Contact: Suburban Maryland High Technology Council, 51 Monroe St., Suite 1701, Rockville, MD 20850. Phone: 301-762-6325.
* Federal Technology Transfer Deskbook, edited by J.S. Shackford, Holbrook & Kellogg Inc., 1993. This is a two-volume loose-leaf collection of agency/laboratory publications, federal laws and regulations, forms and other documents concerning federal technology transfer and research activities. For further information contact Holbrook & Kellogg Inc., 1960 Gallows Rd., Suite 120, Vienna, VA 22182. Phone: 703-506-0600.
Some federal agencies and laboratories periodically publish catalogs and listings of inventions available for licensing, approved CRADAs and other information. Catalogs are available from major agencies including the PHS/NIH, the Departments of Agriculture and Energy, and NASA. Some agencies/laboratories also periodically issue reports and publications highlighting their technology transfer accomplishments. Some agency and laboratory-specific sources are described in the agency/laboratory chapter introductory sections.
When your interests primarily involve current research (rather than inventions) or access to research materials, it may be appropriate to directly communicate with federal researchers. Scientific information and materials exchanges rarely require or involve licensing or CRADAs--only when patent rights need to be defined or transferred.
Federal Technology Transfer Offices
Information concerning licensing, collaborative and other technology transfer opportunities may often best be obtained by going to the source--federal agency/laboratory technology transfer offices. All major federal agencies and laboratories have such an office. These may be located using the listings provided in the introductory sections for each agency/laboratory or by using the referral services of the NTTC, FLC and other sources discussed above.
Contact federal technology transfer offices when you have serious interest in licensing an invention, establishing a CRADA, or learning more about available technology transfer opportunities. Find the right person--someone who is willing and able to assist you and be clear and specific about your interests. Most technology transfer offices are better prepared to respond to specific rather than overly broad or general inquiries about licensing and CRADA opportunities. If you have an interest in possibly licensing a specific invention or technology, inquire about the status of that invention and the availability of further information and patent disclosures. Some technology transfer offices, such as the PHS/NIH Office of Technology Transfer, can often provide copies of pending patent applications and other information, providing one signs a nondisclosure agreement.
The amount and quality of information available from federal technology transfer offices about inventions and technology transfer opportunities varies greatly. When contacting technology transfer offices, keep in mind that most invention-related information resides in manual files maintained by various individuals and offices, that federal technology transfer offices are generally overworked (understaffed), and that the necessities of obtaining patent protection and completing licensing and CRADA negotiations may often be accorded a higher priority than responding to public inquiries. You may receive better information and assistance if you first demonstrate that you have made an effort to use patent and bibliographic databases and other information resources and are familiar with the technologies involved or the inventors' related publications.
Many agencies/laboratories can provide catalogs, brochures, fact sheets and other information concerning their inventions available for licensing and collaborative opportunities. However, these may not be as complete, accurate or up-to-date as one might expect. Most federal technology transfer offices are not yet oriented to organizing information for their own use, much less providing technical information for public release. Few federal agency/laboratory technology transfer offices have sufficient resources and procedures in place to make this information publicly available. Many technology transfer offices lack functional management information systems, databases or other means for tracking and reporting their own patents, patent applications, licenses, CRADAs, etc. (and some are not even aware of or able to provide listings of their own issued patents). Many agencies/laboratories are now implementing technology transfer management database systems for internal use and eventually for public access, which will significantly improve this situation.
However, technology transfer offices are often an excellent and the best available information source. They are generally staffed by hard-working and dedicated employees, many of whom will make special efforts to provide assistance and information. It is usually a matter of finding and effectively communicating with the right person and allowing enough time for a response.
Federal Research in Progress Databases
All major federal agencies (except the Department of Defense) provide descriptions of their research in progress to the Federal Research in Progress (FEDRIP) database which is searchable online through the DIALOG and Knowledge Express database services. Besides federal laboratory research, FEDRIP also contains descriptions of extramural research grants and contracts, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, and other funded research projects. Department of Defense (Army, Navy, Air Force) research in progress is described in the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) database.
Most federal agencies maintain their own databases concerning their sponsored research projects, including those within their own laboratories. For example, PHS/NIH has its Current Research and Scientific Projects (CRISP) database, and USDA has its Current Research Information System (CRIS). Some agencies provide free searches of these databases. Contacts for these agency databases are included in the introductory sections of pertinent agency/laboratory chapters.
Federal Technology Transfer Periodicals and Other Resources
Several periodicals and newsletters concentrate on federal technology transfer, licensing and collaborative opportunities, and issues, activities, research and other aspects of technology transfer. These include:
* Technology Transfer Business, a quarterly periodical, free to qualifying professionals and organizations. This magazine focuses on and includes feature articles concerning federal technology transfer. For sample issues and to request a subscription contact:
Technology Transfer Business
1953 Gallows Road, Suite 130
Vienna, VA 22182
Phone: 703-848-2800; FAX: 703-848-2583
* Cooperative Technology RD&D Report, monthly newsletter, $580/year. Primarily provides coverage of federal research, development and demonstration (RD&D) news and issues with emphasis on defense and related industrial technologies. For sample issues and information contact:
Cooperative Technology RD&D Report
Technology Publishing Group
2065 National Press Building
Washington, DC 20045
Phone: 202-966-9610; FAX: 202-363-6929
* McGraw-Hill's Federal Technology Report, twice monthly newsletter, $495/year. Primarily provides coverage of federal technology policies and related news with emphasis on defense and related industrial technologies. For sample issues and information contact:
McGraw-Hill's Federal Technology Report
1221 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Phone: 800-223-6180 or 212-512-6410; FAX: 212-512-2723
Other information resources include:
* Technology Transfer: A Selected Reference List, by J.A. Larson, Office of Technology Administration, Department of Commerce, June 1993. Available from the Technology Transfer Information Center, National Agricultural Library (see U.S. Department of Agriculture introductory section for contact information). This is among the best available bibliographies concerning federal and other technology transfer and includes references and summaries for relevant laws and regulations.
* Federal Laboratories Database, Mid-Atlantic Technology Applications Center, $495 PC version, $695 Macintosh version (see RTTC section in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration chapter introduction). This database provides access to over 2,000 records describing federal laboratories, facilities and centers.
* Technology Transfer: Federal Agencies' Patent Licensing Activities, GAO/RCED-91-80, General Accounting Office (GAO), 1991. Available free from GAO (call 202-275-6241). This brief report provides an overview of federal patent licensing activities.
* Transfer of Technology from Publicly Funded Research Institutions to the Private Sector, Congressional Research Service, July 1991, may be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC) or requested through a member of Congress. This report summarizes and contrasts the technology transfer policies and practices of federal laboratories and other government-funded research in the U.S., European countries and Japan.
* Technology Transfer and the Public Interest: Cooperative Research and Development Agreements at NIH, Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services, Nov. 1993, OEI-01-92-01100. This report, critical of some aspects of NIH management of CRADAs, includes background information and an analysis of a sample of 61 NIH CRADAs from 1990-92.
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