What is SBIR Data?

It is Recorded Information

First, SBIR/STTR Data must be recorded information. That is, SBIR Data must be reduced to writing and contained in a written document. SBIR Data can be source code, sketches, drawings, formulas, equations, reports, descriptions of SBIR technologies, SBIR final reports, and any other type of writing that meets all three of these criteria. SBIR Data protections, however, do not apply to ideas or concepts, unless those ideas or concepts are reduced to writing. SBIR Data protections protect the ideas contained in a written document, but not the idea itself without the writing. In order to protect an idea or concept outside of the written description of it one must resort to patent protection. [1]

It is Technical in Nature

Non-technical data does not qualify as SBIR Data. Cost and pricing information is a good example of this. Other non-technical information, such as background data on the company, is also not protected, and should be disclosed carefully and with that knowledge in mind. The test for this “technical” requirement is that it must relate somehow to the SBIR technology being developed in Phases I, II, and III. [1]

It is Generated Under SBIR/STTR Funding, and Marked

Proprietary data that the firm developed with its own private funds is not SBIR Data, as it was not developed under an SBIR award. Proposal information is also not SBIR Data, although the proposal may contain SBIR Data that was generated under prior SBIR funding agreements and is protected under them. Different laws and regulations protect proposal information and prevent its disclosure. Additionally, if SBIR Data is mixed so thoroughly with non-SBIR Data that the two types of data cannot be pulled apart, or severed from each other, then the whole body of data, including the non-SBIR Data, becomes subject to the government’s non-disclosure obligation. This occurs often with respect to source code and computer software.

Finally, to qualify for Data Rights protection, the SBIR/STTR Data must be correctly marked. A grace period provides for the opportunity to correct a failure to mark or inaccurately marked SBIR/STTR Data within six months.[1]

Additional details are available via SBA’s SBIR Data Rights Course, as well as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program Policy Directive, effective May 2, 2019.

Updated by Kristin Stiner, March 2020

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