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USDA-ARS working with the public to commercialize inventions made at USDA labs

Our job at the USDA-ARS Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) is to take USDA inventions from the field and laboratory and enable their practical use, nurture new businesses and improve the quality of life for all Americans.  We do this by granting licenses to commercialize these inventions to qualified businesses and individuals with a special emphasis on US-based small companies that produce products in the US.


USDA is looking for commercial partners to develop and market inventions made by USDA scientists.  We strive to have a transparent licensing process.  Here is a 6-step process that you will follow if you are interested in licensing an invention from USDA.




1.  Select a Technology You Want to Commercialize


.You select an invention based upon your interaction with our scientists or Licensing Specialists, USDA publications, or available USDA technologies.


2.  Request Additional Information


You may contact the Area Office Technology Transfer Staff who can provide additional information to assist your evaluation of the invention.  Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)will be executed so that we can provide you with the most relevant information related to the invention.  A Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) may also be necessary if you wish to evaluate material described in the invention.


3.  Apply for a License


The license application you need to complete is different based on the category for your technology of interest.  Below you can find the license applications and the corresponding instructions for each category.



Patents and Pending Patents

Plant Varieties

Biological Materials

Instructions (Word | PDF)

Instructions (Word | PDF)

Instructions (Word | PDF)

Application (Word | PDF)

Application (Word | PDF)

Application (Word | PDF)


Licensing Specialists are available to speak with you about your license application.  The license application is a working document and we may request additional information, if necessary.


Please note that license applications can be submitted via email.  Please mark the email and all attachments as "confidential".  You may also password protect your attachments in order to safeguard any confidential business information contained within.  At this time, our email address and website do not contain any security protocols to establish an encrypted link between our web server (website) and your internet browser or our email server and your mail client (e.g., email program such as Microsoft Outlook).


4.  Plan for Success

There are many examples of development/marketing plans available on the internet.  It is important to note that the information you provide is confidential under Federal Law (37 CFR 404).  You should describe your business plan in item 20 of the license application.  We are looking for a discussion on commercial products, timelines, market estimates, profitability analysis, manufacturing, marketing, financial, and technical expertise.  Please see our instructions for additional details.  Your plan is a required part of the license application (See 37 CFR 404).


5.  Negotiate


License agreement terms are flexible and take into account the needs of the licensee's business plan.  Licenses may be nonexclusive, co-exclusive, partially exclusive or exclusive.  In some cases, patent rights outside of the United States may be available for licensing.  It is important to remember that at the USDA, business terms are negotiated on a case by case basis.  A typical license has an execution fee, minimum annual royalties, patent cost reimbursement, a percentage of net sales, as well as sublicensing fees.  You should also note that licenses are negotiated pursuant to the policy and objectives set forth in 35 USC 207-209 and 37 CFR 404.


Here are examples of our license agreements:


Exclusive License Agreement (Word | PDF)

Nonexclusive License Agreement (WordPDF)

Plant Patent License Agreement (Word | PDF)

Plant Variety Protection Certificate License Agreement (Word | PDF)

Biological Materials License Agreement (Word | PDF)



If you've applied for exclusive rights to an invention, a Notice in the Federal Register may be required. The Notice is published after your application is determined to be complete and sufficient but before any terms of the agreement are completed. 



Finally, as you develop your plan, you might decide that additional research or help might be needed to get a particular invention to market.  While ARS has many different partnering mechanisms, one is of particular interest in the licensing context.  Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), set forth is 15 USC 3710 (a), ARS scientists and companies work together to develop a research plan consistent with your company's goals and USDA-ARS' mission.  As USDA-ARS's scientists represent the world's best and provide research expertise at extremely competitive rates.  A major incentive of a CRADA is the company's first right to negotiate an exclusive license without giving Notice in the Federal Register to any inventions that are developed and owned or co-owned by the government under the CRADA.

6.  Action


Now that you've licensed the technology you need, it is time to execute that plan and succeed.  We are here to help you succeed.  Feel free to contact a specific OTT licensing staff member with any questions you might have regarding your application or license.


Additional information can be obtained by contacting:

USDA, Agricultural Research Service
Office of Technology Transfer
5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Room 4-1159
Beltsville, MD 20705-5131
(301) 504-5989 / fax: (301) 504-5060

The Technology Licensing Program manages all aspects of USDA invention licensing, including the review of license applications, the negotiation of license agreements, and the monitoring of license agreements to assure compliance with agreement terms.  Licensing Program staff collect and disburse license revenues, manage international patent filings, and provide expert advice on all matters related to USDA invention licensing.

Brian Nakanishi, Business Licensing Officer, Technology Licensing Program
Phone: (301) 504-4879
Fax: (301) 504-5060

Diana Halsey, Technology Licensing Specialist
Phone: (301) 504-4878 
Fax: (301) 504-5060

John Gaudet, Technology Licensing Specialist
Phone: (301) 504-4558
Fax: (301) 504-5060

Vince Contreras, Technology Licensing Specialist
Phone: (301) 504-4781
Fax: (301) 504-5060

Deborah Penot, Foreign Patent Specialist
Phone: (301) 504-5003
Fax: (301) 504-5060

Carla Boettinger, Tech Licensing Compliance Specialist
Phone: (301) 504-5734
Fax: (301) 504-5060

Anthony Smith, Office Assistant
Phone: (301) 504-4893
Fax: (301) 504-5060