45 CFR § 650.9 - Unwanted inventions.
(a) The Foundation will normally allow any patent rights not wanted by the awardee or inventor to be dedicated to the public through publication in scientific and engineering journals or as a statutory invention registration under section 157 of title 35 of the United States Code. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, the NSF Patent Assistant will acknowledge a negative election by encouraging the awardee and inventor to promptly make all research results available to the scientific and engineering community.
(b) If the NSF Patent Assistant believes that another Federal agency is interested in the relevant technology, he or she may, after receiving the awardee's election not to patent and ascertaining that the inventor also does not want to patent, send a copy of the invention disclosure to that agency to give it an opportunity to review and patent the invention. Unless the agency expresses an interest in the invention within thirty days, the Patent Assistant will acknowledge the awardee's negative election by encouraging prompt publication of all research results. If the agency does express an interest in patenting the invention, the Patent Assistant will transfer to it all rights to the invention.