• The Army is in the process of developing an intellectual property rights policy that will reflect protections already in use by the commercial sector, reports Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.
     The Army is in the process of developing an intellectual property rights policy that will reflect protections already in use by the commercial sector, reports Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

Army Draws Up Intellectual Property Policy

August 28, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
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The new policy will improve readiness, protect corporate data, and help innovation, Army leader reports.


As part of its effort to modernize, the U.S. Army is developing a new policy regarding intellectual property. The new procedure, to be released in a few months, will resemble rights commonly used by the commercial industry, said Bruce Jetty, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)).

“Not having a clear policy has caused us difficulty in the past,” Jetty told the audience at last week’s NDIA Army Science & Technology Symposium and Showcase in Washington, D.C. Jetty also is the Army acquisition executive, the senior procurement executive, the science advisor to the Secretary of the Army, and the Army’s senior research and development official.

A strong policy would alleviate problems that the service faces after acquiring products or capabilities and the providing companies go out of business or other circumstances change. “Maybe your company goes belly up,” Jetty said. “Maybe you sell to somebody that I don't want to buy from anymore, such as a foreign entity, and all of a sudden I've got this stuck-together relationship, not to mention the fact that down the road if you want to change something, but I'm still woven together. That's not how commercial works, and you all know that. And so we're going towards the commercial architecture.”

In exercising intellectual property rights, also known as tech data rights, the Army would sort out with companies beforehand the price the service would pay for the rights; the duration; whether the rights apply throughout the Army, or just a part; and which party would be responsible for upgrading a product or maintaining it, he explained.

Jetty ventured that having such a framework would improve the working relationship with industry. “I think if we approached intellectual property from more of a commercial perspective, it's going to enhance your ability to participate with us,” he noted. “That way we have an amicable relationship and it stays that way. It means that you have to stay competitive, but you get your intellectual property protected and we can work out a licensing arrangement.”

And while intellectual property right agreements commonly cover the development of software, Jetty said that the Army’s policy would cover other capabilities. “It could be be a new key to an electronic circuit or new concepts in radios or waveforms,” he said.

Because the intellectual property rights policy “will have widespread implications,” it is under extensive review, the ASA(ALT) leader shared. Jetty expects that the Army would begin implementing the policy “in the next couple of months.” Leaders also are coordinating the drafting of the policy between Army, Navy and Air Force officials. “So we're working through that right now,” he said. “I kind of call it combing through the spaghetti.”

Jetty also encouraged industry feedback in regard to the new policy. “I want to hear your comments,” he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, led by Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, USA, has started a pilot program that will allow the service to option intellectual property rights in specific hardware and software contracts, Gen. Taylor told SIGNAL Magazine in a recent interview. The provision will enable the Army to purchase such rights if needed at a future time for a prearranged price.

CECOM, as the command is known, is responsible for the preparation of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities for the Army across the technological life cycle. The new escrow tool for intellectual property rights will provide flexibility in the long-term fielding of these capabilities as well as improve the Army’s overall readiness, Gen. Taylor reported.

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