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Licensing Process
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Licensing Process

Here is a 6-step process that you will follow if you are interested in licensing an invention from USDA.

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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 USDA available biological materials or available 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. A 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. 


Biological Materials

Commercial Evaluation License

Patents and   Pending Patents

Plant Varieties










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.

To view examples of our license agreements, click here.

If you've applied for exclusive rights to an invention, a Notice on the Federal Laboratory Consortium website 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 phone: (301) 301-504-6905 / fax: (301) 504-5060 E-mail: