A SPP Agreement is a fee for service contract that enables Industry, non-profit institutions and other non-federal entities to pay the Laboratory to perform a defined scope of work or tasks that draws upon the unique facilities, equipment, and personnel of the Laboratory. Rights to the inventions and data that arise under such a contract will typically vest in the sponsor if the sponsor is a US entity and pays for the work with private funds. If the sponsor is subcontracting federal funds to the national laboratory or the sponsor is a non-US entity, the rights in the intellectual property will typically vest with the laboratory. These dispositions can be varied based upon a variety of circumstances and are contingent upon approval from DOE. In all cases, the Government will retain a royalty-free license in Subject Inventions (inventions conceived or first actually reduced to practice under the SPP) for use by or on behalf of the government. Typically, this license is a broad license that enables the Government to use or enable others to use the inventions for any government purpose. However, a more limited Government research license may be obtained instead of the broader license upon DOE Patent Counsel approval. If a limited research license is applied, then the Government retains expanded data rights. The Laboratory cannot expend government resources without an appropriate allocation or set aside of funding to pay for those expenditures. Therefore, an Advance Payment is typically required before any work can begin on the project. The size of this set aside was recently reduced from 90 days to 60 days of expected cost. State and local governments that have a constitutional prohibition against such advance payments may obtain a waiver of this requirement from DOE. SPP Agreements are “best efforts” contracts and the Sponsor receives no warranties for work performed under a SPP Agreement, and the Government and the Contractor operating the Laboratory are indemnified for certain risks including product liability. These are also full cost reimbursement contracts, so while a particular quantity may be agreed upon at the outset, all costs incurred in performing the work must be reimbursed by the sponsor. In the event that funds are exhausted the project may also be terminated. In view of these facts, successful SPP projects typically require communication between industry and the lab and an agreement on funding levels and sources before starting the SPP agreement process.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
© 2021 Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. All rights reserved.