Frequently Asked Questions
This section answers some frequently asked questions about technology transfer, patent licensing, and privacy issues. Feel free to contact the Technology Transfer Office for more information by calling 661-276-3368 or emailing AFRC-TTO@mail.nasa.gov.
How can I find the available technologies in my area of interest?
Visit out Patent Portfolio page and simply enter the key words describing your area of interest. Your search can include keywords about a specific technology, application of the technology, or benefit of the technology.
How does NASA Armstrong categorize technologies?
NASA has implemented a universal categorization system for its technologies. The fifteen areas of excellence are:
- Electrical and electronics
- Health medicine and biotechnology
- Information technology and software
- Materials and coatings
- Mechanical and fluid systems
- Power generation and storage
- Robotics automation and control
Easy navigation of these categories can be found on our Patent Portfolio page.
Whom do I contact to receive further information on a particular NASA Armstrong technology?
You can e-mail the Technology Transfer Office at AFRC-TTO@mail.nasa.gov.
What is a license agreement?
NASA Armstrong has the authority to grant licenses for patented and patent-pending technologies and inventions. Licenses grant the licensee permission to commercialize the intellectual property owned by NASA and the U.S. Government. Each agreement specifies the duration and cost of the license.
What are the different types of licenses offered by NASA Armstrong?
NASA Armstrong offers three types of licenses: an Evaluation License, a Commercial License, and a Startup NASA License. Information about each of these appears below.
What is an Evaluation License?
Especially geared for small businesses and startups, or for technologies that are in an early stage of development, an Evaluation License is a short-term (1-year), non-exclusive license which allows for a 'test drive' of NASA’s technologies to gauge market interest, production costs, and other key metrics. The Evaluation License is available for a minimal one-time fee. During this trial period, there is just one restriction: Licensees cannot sell the goods produced using NASA’s technology—for that you need a commercial license. See the Evaluation License Information Sheet for more information.
What is a Commercial License?
A Commercial License is granted to companies prepared to make and sell products using NASA’s intellectual property. The process of licensing requires a detailed application with a business plan and financial estimates. During this process, fees and royalties are negotiated and agreed upon for the rights to the technologies, which may or may not include exclusivity. See the Commercial License Information Sheet for more information.
This special category of commercial license offered through the Agency’s Startup NASA Initiative is open only to companies formed with the express intent of commercializing licensed NASA technology. These Startup Licenses are non-exclusive only. Visit the Agency’s Startup NASA website for more information.
Will NASA Armstrong grant exclusivity for a particular technology?
Licenses may be exclusive, partially exclusive, or non-exclusive. NASA Armstrong will consider requests for all types of licenses. For exclusive and partially exclusive licenses, NASA Armstrong is required to publish a notice of a prospective license in the Federal Register identifying the invention and proposed licensee and providing at least a 15-day period for the public to file written objections. Any objections received during this time period will be reviewed and evaluated by NASA Armstrong prior to making a final licensing determination. Non-exclusive licenses may be granted for federally owned inventions without publication in the Federal Register.
How long does the patent licensing process take?
Depending on the type of license being applied for, licensing can occur as quickly as 1 month, as might be the case with an Evaluation License. A Commercial License typically takes longer, especially if applying for exclusivity, depending on the complexity of the application.
How much will I have to pay up-front?
Up-front fees vary depending on the license. Evaluation licenses have a minimal one-time fee. Commercial licenses are negotiated after submission of the license application and supporting commercialization plan.
What percentage in royalties does NASA Armstrong require under a Commercial License Agreement?
The percentage in royalties to be paid to NASA Armstrong under a Commercial license agreement is negotiable and dependent upon a number of factors, including the type of license issued (e.g., exclusive or non-exclusive) and other market considerations.
Whom do I contact to receive further information on licenses?
Specific contact information is provided with each featured technology. Or you can e-mail the Technology Transfer Office at AFRC-TTO@mail.nasa.gov.
Partnering with NASA Armstrong
Why does NASA Armstrong partner?
The U.S. Congress and the NASA Administrator put great emphasis on transferring NASA-developed technology and expertise to U.S. industry to increase industrial competitiveness, create jobs, and improve the balance of trade. In addition, there is an emphasis on bringing technologies and expertise into NASA that can facilitate achievement of space program goals.
How can NASA Armstrong assist an organization in solving its technical problems organization improving its products?
NASA Armstrong has world-class facilities and cutting-edge researchers. These resources can be made available to you through a partnership agreement. Furthermore, licensees can partner with NASA Armstrong to aid in the commercialization of NASA technologies.
What types of arrangements are used to partner with NASA Armstrong?
Partnering agreements with NASA Armstrong include license agreements, software usage agreements, and Space Act Agreements.
What is a Software Usage Agreement?
A software usage agreement enables NASA software to be used by other federal agencies, commercial organizations, and academic institutions. Organizations interested in obtaining software from NASA Armstrong should visit NASA’s Software Catalog.
What is a Space Act Agreement (SAA)?
The most common mechanism for partnering with Glenn is the Space Act Agreement. These agreements are very similar to the Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) offered by other government agencies, but are based on NASA’s enabling legislation. Space Act Agreements can be non-reimbursable or reimbursable.
Non-reimbursable SAAs are collaborative agreements in which NASA and another party each contribute resources – which can include personnel, facilities, expertise, equipment or technology – with no transfer of funds. Each party agrees to fund its own participation in the activity for their mutual benefit.
Reimbursable SAAs involve the payment of funds to NASA in exchange for the use of NASA resources – personnel, facilities, expertise, equipment or technology. The terms, conditions and schedules are negotiable, but NASA must be paid in advance for each stage of the effort.
What’s the difference between an SAA, CRADA, and Cooperative Agreement?
SAAs and CRADAs are very similar. Authorized by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, SAAs are flexible arrangements that allow NASA to work cooperatively with industry and academia. The Technology Innovation Act of 1980 authorizes other government research organizations, which did not have similar provisions in their charters, to use CRADAs. Cooperative Agreements with industry allow NASA Armstrong to enter into a cost/resource-sharing arrangement for research and technology development.
Do I need to know what kind of partnership agreement I want?
No. It is not necessary to specify the type of partnership desired. NASA Armstrong will help determine which agreement vehicle is best based upon the specifics of the request.
Can industry, academia, or individuals use Armstrong facilities? Is there a charge for the usage?
Armstrong facilities can be used on a space-available basis, although NASA mission needs will always take precedence, regardless of any previously agreed upon schedules. Should the research to be conducted be of value to a Armstrong mission, Armstrong may cover some expenses; however, the results could eventually be publicly released by NASA.
Who owns inventions under a Space Act Agreement?
Industry partners or academic institutions may retain rights if the technology is invented solely by its employees. NASA may retain the rights if the technology is invented solely by NASA employees. A jointly owned patent will result if employees of each party invent the item. In any event, patent and data rights will be spelled out in the agreement or negotiated in accordance with applicable law.
What is an Umbrella Agreement?
An Umbrella Agreement is used when work between NASA and another party is expected to be ongoing for a long period of time, but all elements cannot be defined at the time when the agreement is negotiated. Work is usually defined through the issuance of individual Task Amendments.
Whom do I contact to discuss partnering with NASA Armstrong?
You can e-mail the Technology Transfer Office at AFRC-TTO@mail.nasa.gov. In addition to partnerships associated with licensing our technology, NASA Armstrong is also interested in a variety of other partnerships. For more information, please contact John Del Frate at 661-276-3704 or John.H.DelFrate@nasa.gov.
Are discussions with Armstrong personnel kept confidential? What about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
Armstrong personnel are obligated by law to keep all proprietary information confidential if identified as such. Company trade secret information revealed to Armstrong in the process of negotiating and signing a partnership agreement or license is exempt from FOIA.
Must the data resulting from a partnership with Armstrong be made public?
Partnership agreements can contain their own nondisclosure and IP ownership clauses based on what is appropriate for each arrangement.
Must the data resulting from the work in a Armstrong facility be made public?
If the external party pays the total cost associated with use of the facility, the data will not be made public unless otherwise agreed to. However, if the research to be conducted is of interest to NASA and Armstrong covers some of the expenses, then the results could eventually be publicly released by NASA.