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Patent License Agreements


ERDC is authorized to license its intellectual property to private industry and other entities. Licenses are a means for achieving a wider use of inventions created by ERDC scientists. Once a patent application has been filed for an invention, that invention can be licensed for commercial development and use. The Patent License Agreement (PLA) may be nonexclusive, partially exclusive or exclusive. Regardless of the type of commercial license issued, the government retains its rights to use an invention and to grant nonexclusive research licenses. The royalty is negotiated on a case-by-case basis and takes many factors into account such as market size, exclusivity, or whether additional technology development is needed. The laboratory may provide technical assistance on a reimbursable basis if needed to further develop the technology.


PLAs are authorized by the Technology Transfer Act of 1986 (15 USC 3710a) as amended. The governing regulation is AR 70-57, Military-Civilian Technology Transfer, 26 February 2004.

When a PLA is Appropriate

A PLA is appropriate to use when a company or other entity desires to license a patent or patent application for commercialization or research purposes. There are three types of licenses that may be negotiated:

  • An exclusive license restricts the use of an invention to a single licensee
  • A partially exclusive license allows multiple licensees, but restricts the use of the invention by any single licensee to a particular geographic area or to a particular use
  • A nonexclusive license can be issued to any number of licensees.

Who May Participate in a PLA

  • Private corporations (U.S. or foreign)
  • Nonprofit and not-for-profit institutions (U.S. or foreign)
  • State, local and tribal governments (U.S.)