Congress offers defense scientists a bigger payday

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Science  24 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6366, pp. 980
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6366.980

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Congress has given government scientists working at U.S. defense laboratories an opportunity for a much bigger payoff—up to $500,000 per year—if their research is a commercial success. A bill approved last week by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate would create a 5-year experiment that would more than triple the annual payments—now $150,000—that Department of Defense (DOD) inventors can collect from the sales of patented technology that the Pentagon has licensed to a company. Inventors would also receive at least 20% of all royalties, up from the current minimum of 15%. The legislation, which sets policy and 2018 budget levels for DOD, is the latest move in a decadeslong push by policymakers to prod the military to do a better job of commercializing discoveries that have civilian as well as battlefield uses.