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A cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA or CRDA) is

any agreement between one or more Federal laboratories and one or more non-Federal parties under which the Government, through its laboratories, provides personnel, services, facilities, equipment, intellectual property, or other resources with or without reimbursement (but not funds to non-Federal parties) and the non-Federal parties provide funds, personnel, services, facilities, equipment, intellectual property, or other resources toward the conduct of specified research or development efforts which are consistent with the missions of the laboratory; except that such term does not include a procurement contract or cooperative agreement as those terms are used in sections 6303, 6304, and 6305 of title 31.[1]


A CRADA is a specific legal document which defines the collaborative venture. It is intended to be developed at the laboratory level, with limited agency review. In agencies which operate their own laboratories, the laboratory Director is permitted to make decisions to participate in CRADAs in an effort to decentralize and expedite the technology transfer process. Generally, at agencies which use contractors to run their laboratories, specifically DOE, the CRADA is to be approved by headquarters. Pub. L. No. 106-398, however, allows the agency to define certain conditions under which the CRADA may be approved by a laboratory itself rather than headquarters.

The work performed under a cooperative research and development agreement must be consistent with the laboratory's mission. In pursuing these joint efforts, the laboratory may accept funds, personnel, services, and property from the collaborating party and may provide personnel, services, and property to the participating organization. The government can cover overhead costs incurred in support of the CRADA, but is expressly prohibited from providing direct funding to the industrial partner.

Under a CRADA, title to, or licenses for, inventions made by a laboratory employee may be granted in advance to the participating company, university, or consortium by the director of the laboratory. In addition, the director can waive, in advance, any right of ownership the government might have on inventions resulting from the collaborative effort regardless of size of the company. This diverges from other patent laws that requires title to inventions made under federal R&D funding be given to small businesses, not-for-profits, and universities. In all cases, the government retains a nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license to practice, or have practiced, the invention for its own needs.


  1. 15 U.S.C. §3710a(d)(1).