The DFARS Approach to Data Rights

We have discussed data rights in the general federal government context, now it is finally time to look at the DFARS’ approach to this area of intellectual property. One thing: The DFARS (Defense Acquisition Regulation Systems) does not replace the FAR. It is a supplement, not a completely different set of rules. That said, there are certain nuances that the contractor needs to be aware of in order to navigate the DoD’s requirements.

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Data Rights and the Government Contractor: Restricted Computer Software

After going over limited data rights in our last post on intellectual property in government contracts, it is only natural we discuss the similar but distinct concept of restricted computer software. As we noted in the limited data rights post, this only concerns contracts regulated by FAR, or, in other words, non-Department of Defense contracts. If you’re dealing with the Department of Defense, the Defense Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) applies. DFARS has similar provisions but also differs in meaningful ways. We’ll discuss DFARS at a later post.

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Data Rights and the Government Contractor: Limited Data Rights

In our last post on intellectual property and government contracts, we went over a basic discussion about data rights and then addressed the matter of unlimited data rights for the government. As discussed, unlimited data rights basically give the government free rein to do as they wish with the data. More importantly, the FAR provides that such unlimited data rights are the government’s default rights. But there is a way to limit the government’s rights: limited data rights.

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Data Rights and the Government Contractor: An Introduction and Unlimited Data Rights

Ask any attorney, and there’s a good chance they’d agree with this statement: Intellectual property is a particularly complex area of law. Dealing with property rights in things that don’t physically exist, unsurprisingly, can result in a lot of confusion. Couple this with the labyrinthine regulations and rules concerning government contracts and procurements, and even the most experienced contractor can be left confused with a pounding headache.

To help clear up these murky waters, this post will be the first in a series of posts reviewing some of the basics of intellectual property rules in government contracts. We will start by going over data rights, as perhaps no subject in this field is more difficult than dealing with data rights. While I think we’re getting to the point in history where we can stop referring to computers and the internet as a novel technology (The internet as we know it is over thirty years old!), the law around data rights is still relatively new and rough around the edges. In this post, we will review the general concept and the rules regarding “unlimited rights” in data.

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