37 CFR § 401.7 - Small business preference.
(a) Paragraph (k)(4) of the clauses at § 401.14 Implements the small business preference requirement of 35 U.S.C. 202(c)(7)(D). Contractors are expected to use efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to attract small business licensees. They are also expected to give small business firms that meet the standard outlined in the clause a preference over other applicants for licenses. What constitutes reasonable efforts to attract small business licensees will vary with the circumstances and the nature, duration, and expense of efforts needed to bring the invention to the market. Paragraph (k)(4) is not intended, for example, to prevent nonprofit organizations from providing larger firms with a right of first refusal or other options in inventions that relate to research being supported under long-term or other arrangements with larger companies. Under such circumstances it would not be resonable to seek and to give a preference to small business licensees.
(b) Small business firms that believe a nonprofit organization is not meeting its obligations under the clause may report their concerns to the funding agency identified at § 401.14(l), and following receipt of the funding agency's initial response to their concerns or, if no initial funding agency response is received within 90 days from the date their concerns were reported to the funding agency, may thereafter report their concerns, together with any response from the funding agency, to the Secretary. To the extent deemed appropriate, the Secretary, in consultation with the funding agency, will undertake informal investigation of the concern, and, if appropriate, enter into discussions or negotiations with the nonprofit organization to the end of improving its efforts in meeting its obligations under the clause. However, in no event will the Secretary intervene in ongoing negotiations or contractor decisions concerning the licensing of a specific subject invention. All investigations, discussions, and negotiations of the Secretary described in this paragraph (b) will be in coordination with other interested agencies, including the funding agency and the Small Business Administration. In the case of a contract for the operation of a government-owned, contractor operated research or production facility, the Secretary will coordinate with the agency responsible for the facility prior to any discussions or negotiations with the contractor.
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