Survey Manual

453.1 - Inventions by Employees


Date: 08/20/19

OPR: Office of Policy and Analysis

Instruction: This replaces Survey Manual (SM) Chapter 453.1, dated August 30, 1996.


1.  Purpose and Scope. This SM chapter establishes policy for reporting inventions developed by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees. The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) policy and procedures are set forth in the Departmental Manual (DM), 453 DM 1, Inventions by Employees.  

2.  Authorities.

A.  Executive Order 10096, as amended, “Providing for Uniform Patent Policy for the Government with Respect to Inventions by Government Employees and for the Administration of Such Policy.”

B.  43 CFR 6, Subpart A, Public Lands: Interior; Patent Regulations.

C.  453 DM 1, Inventions by Employees (citing Patents, 35 U.S.C. §§ 1-376; Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, 35 U.S.C. §§ 1-37; Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, § 3710a).

D.  37 CFR 501.6, Uniform Patent Policy for Rights in Inventions Made by Government Employees.

3.  Policy. Federal and Department regulations require the reporting of any invention made by an employee of the USGS. Inventions shall be reported to the Office of Policy and Analysis (OPA) prior to their publication or other release to the public. The USGS reserves the right not to pursue patent protection on any invention that does not meet the criteria for patenting or mission needs. 

4.  Definitions.

A.  Incentive means a monetary award offered to eligible individuals or groups that participate in the USGS invention and patent process.

B.  Invention, more broadly defined in 453 DM 1, Inventions by Employees, means any unique or novel device, process, improvement, etc., that did not exist previously and that is recognized as the product of unique intuition or genius, as distinguished from ordinary mechanical skill or craftsmanship.

C. Patent application means any examination request at a patent office for an invention described and claimed by that application that may lead to the application being issued as a patent.

D. Patent means exclusive rights granted by a Government to the Applicant to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for the life of the patent.

5.  Responsibilities.

A.  The Chief, Office of Policy and Analysis is responsible for monitoring and coordinating USGS patent activities and is the USGS liaison to the DOI Office of the Solicitor on matters related to patents.

B.  The Center Director or Program Chief and Supervisors are responsible for reviewing the invention reports for completeness and rendering assistance, as required by the employee- inventor, in the preparation and processing of these reports. The Center Director or Program Chief shall provide a written recommendation either supporting or not supporting pursuit of patenting an invention to OPA. Indication of support includes confirmation of the availability and the limited amount of funds for payment of any Incentive Award.

C.  The Employee-Inventor has a duty to self-report an invention and shall prepare the Form DI-1215, Report of Invention, in accordance with current regulations for submission to their immediate supervisor. If an employee-inventor asserts that the invention was not owned by USGS, as a result of being made independent of USGS employment or resources, then the employee may request formal determination of rights by submitting the Form DI-1218, Invention Rights Questionnaire.

D.  The DOI Office of the Solicitor is responsible for issuing a formal determination of rights when requested by an employee-inventor through submission of Form DI-1218, Invention Rights Questionnaire.

6.  General Procedures. 

A.  Preparation and Processing. Invention report packages are transmitted through Center Directors or Program Chiefs and Supervisors to OPA for review and evaluation prior to consideration.

B.  Incentives. A $500 incentive award will be made to each USGS employee-inventor when a patent application has been filed with the support of the employee-inventor’s Supervisor. An additional $800 incentive award will be made to each USGS employee-inventor when a patent is issued from the application. Incentive awards should be funded by the Center or Program where the invention is made by completing Form DI-451, Award Certification.

7.  Expiration Date. This policy must be reviewed biennially, or more frequently as needed.



/s/ Katherine M. McCulloch                                                  08/20/19
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Katherine M. McCulloch                                                        Date

Associate Director for Administration