Internal Revenue Bulletin:  2007-29 

July 16, 2007 

Rev. Proc. 2007-47


SECTION 1. PURPOSE

The purpose of this revenue procedure is to set forth conditions under which a research agreement does not result in private business use under § 141(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the Code). This revenue procedure also addresses whether a research agreement causes the modified private business use test in § 145(a)(2)(B) of the Code to be met for qualified 501(c)(3) bonds. This revenue procedure modifies and supersedes Rev. Proc. 97-14, 1997-1 C.B. 634.

SECTION 2. BACKGROUND

.01 Private Business Use.

(1) Under § 103(a) of the Code, gross income does not include interest on any State or local bond. Under § 103(b)(1), however, § 103(a) does not apply to a private activity bond, unless it is a qualified bond under § 141(e). Section 141(a)(1) defines “private activity bond” as any bond issued as part of an issue that meets both the private business use and the private security or payment tests. Under § 141(b)(1), an issue generally meets the private business use test if more than 10 percent of the proceeds of the issue are to be used for any private business use. Under § 141(b)(6)(A), private business use means direct or indirect use in a trade or business carried on by any person other than a governmental unit. Section 150(a)(2) provides that the term “governmental unit” does not include the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof. Section 145(a) also applies the private business use test of § 141(b)(1) to qualified 501(c)(3) bonds, with certain modifications.

(2) Section 1.141-3(b)(1) of the Income Tax Regulations provides that both actual and beneficial use by a nongovernmental person may be treated as private business use. In most cases, the private business use test is met only if a nongovernmental person has special legal entitlements to use the financed property under an arrangement with the issuer. In general, a nongovernmental person is treated as a private business user of proceeds and financed property as a result of ownership; actual or beneficial use of property pursuant to a lease, or a management or incentive payment contract; or certain other arrangements such as a take or pay or other output-type contract.

(3) Section 1.141-3(b)(6)(i) provides generally that an agreement by a nongovernmental person to sponsor research performed by a governmental person may result in private business use of the property used for the research, based on all the facts and circumstances.

(4) Section 1.141-3(b)(6)(ii) provides generally that a research agreement with respect to financed property results in private business use of that property if the sponsor is treated as the lessee or owner of financed property for Federal income tax purposes.

(5) Section 1.141-1(b) provides that the term “governmental person” means a State or local governmental unit as defined in § 1.103-1 or any instrumentality thereof. Section 1.141-1(b) further provides that governmental person does not include the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof. Section 1.141-1(b) further provides that “nongovernmental person” means a person other than a governmental person.

(6) Section 1.145-2 provides that §§ 1.141-0 through 1.141-15 apply to qualified 501(c)(3) bonds under § 145(a) of the Code with certain modifications and exceptions.

(7) Section 1.145-2(b)(1) provides that, in applying §§ 1.141-0 through 1.141-15 to § 145(a) of the Code, references to governmental persons include § 501(c)(3) organizations with respect to their activities that do not constitute unrelated trades or businesses under § 513(a).

.02 Federal Government rights under the Bayh-Dole Act.

(1) The Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act of 1980, as amended, 35 U.S.C. § 200 et seq. (2006) (the “Bayh-Dole Act”), generally applies to any contract, grant, or cooperative agreement with any Federal agency for the performance of research funded by the Federal Government.

(2) The policies and objectives of the Bayh-Dole Act include promoting the utilization of inventions arising from federally supported research and development programs, encouraging maximum participation of small business firms in federally supported research and development efforts, promoting collaboration between commercial concerns and nonprofit organizations, ensuring that inventions made by nonprofit organizations and small business firms are used in a manner to promote free competition and enterprise, and promoting the commercialization and public availability of inventions made in the United States by United States industry and labor.

(3) Under the Bayh-Dole Act, the Federal Government and sponsoring Federal agencies receive certain rights to inventions that result from federally funded research activities performed by non-sponsoring parties pursuant to contracts, grants, or cooperative research agreements with the sponsoring Federal agencies. The rights granted to the Federal Government and its agencies under the Bayh-Dole Act generally include, among others, nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up licenses to use the products of federally sponsored research and certain so-called “march-in rights” over licensing under limited circumstances. Here, the term “march-in rights” refers to certain rights granted to the sponsoring Federal agencies under the Bayh-Dole Act, 35 U.S.C. § 203 (2006), to take certain actions, including granting licenses to third parties to ensure public benefits from the dissemination and use of the results of federally sponsored research in circumstances in which the original contractor or assignee has not taken, or is not expected to take within a reasonable time, effective steps to achieve practical application of the product of that research. The general purpose of these rights is to ensure the expenditure of Federal research funds in accordance with the policies and objectives of the Bayh-Dole Act.

SECTION 3. DEFINITIONS

.01 Basic research, for purposes of § 141 of the Code, means any original investigation for the advancement of scientific knowledge not having a specific commercial objective. For example, product testing supporting the trade or business of a specific nongovernmental person is not treated as basic research.

.02 Qualified user means any State or local governmental unit as defined in § 1.103-1 or any instrumentality thereof. The term also includes a § 501(c)(3) organization if the financed property is not used in an unrelated trade or business under § 513(a) of the Code. The term does not include the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof.

.03 Sponsor means any person, other than a qualified user, that supports or sponsors research under a contract.

SECTION 4. CHANGES

This revenue procedure modifies and supersedes Rev. Proc. 97-14 by making changes that are described generally as follows:

.01 Section 6.03 of this revenue procedure modifies the operating guidelines on cooperative research agreements to include agreements regarding industry or federally sponsored research with either a single sponsor or multiple sponsors.

.02 Section 6.04 of this revenue procedure provides special rules for applying the revised operating guidelines under section 6.03 of this revenue procedure to federally sponsored research. These special rules provide that the rights of the Federal Government and its agencies mandated by the Bayh-Dole Act will not cause research agreements to fail to meet the requirements of section 6.03, upon satisfaction of the requirements of section 6.04 of this revenue procedure. Thus, under the stated conditions, such rights themselves will not result in private business use by the Federal Government or its agencies of property used in research performed under research agreements. These special rules do not address the use by third parties that actually receive more than non-exclusive, royalty-free licenses as the result of the exercise by a sponsoring Federal agency of its rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, such as its march-in rights.

SECTION 5. SCOPE

This revenue procedure applies when, under a research agreement, a sponsor uses property financed with proceeds of an issue of State or local bonds subject to § 141 or § 145(a)(2)(B) of the Code.

SECTION 6. OPERATING GUIDELINES FOR RESEARCH AGREEMENTS

.01 In general. If a research agreement is described in either section 6.02 or 6.03 of this revenue procedure, the research agreement itself does not result in private business use. In applying the operating guidelines under section 6.03 of this revenue procedure to federally sponsored research, the special rules under section 6.04 of this revenue procedure (regarding the effect of the rights of the Federal Government and its agencies under the Bayh-Dole Act) apply.

.02 Corporate-sponsored research. A research agreement relating to property used for basic research supported or sponsored by a sponsor is described in this section 6.02 if any license or other use of resulting technology by the sponsor is permitted only on the same terms as the recipient would permit that use by any unrelated, non-sponsoring party (that is, the sponsor must pay a competitive price for its use), and the price paid for that use must be determined at the time the license or other resulting technology is available for use. Although the recipient need not permit persons other than the sponsor to use any license or other resulting technology, the price paid by the sponsor must be no less than the price that would be paid by any non-sponsoring party for those same rights.

.03 Industry or federally-sponsored research agreements. A research agreement relating to property used pursuant to an industry or federally-sponsored research arrangement is described in this section 6.03 if the following requirements are met, taking into account the special rules set forth in section 6.04 of this revenue procedure in the case of federally sponsored research —

  1. A single sponsor agrees, or multiple sponsors agree, to fund governmentally performed basic research;

  2. The qualified user determines the research to be performed and the manner in which it is to be performed (for example, selection of the personnel to perform the research);

  3. Title to any patent or other product incidentally resulting from the basic research lies exclusively with the qualified user; and

  4. The sponsor or sponsors are entitled to no more than a nonexclusive, royalty-free license to use the product of any of that research.

.04 Federal Government rights under the Bayh-Dole Act. In applying the operating guidelines on industry and federally-sponsored research agreements under section 6.03 of this revenue procedure to federally sponsored research, the rights of the Federal Government and its agencies mandated by the Bayh-Dole Act will not cause a research agreement to fail to meet the requirements of section 6.03, provided that the requirements of sections 6.03(2), and (3) are met, and the license granted to any party other than the qualified user to use the product of the research is no more than a nonexclusive, royalty-free license. Thus, to illustrate, the existence of march-in rights or other special rights of the Federal Government or the sponsoring Federal agency mandated by the Bayh-Dole Act will not cause a research agreement to fail to meet the requirements of section 6.03 of this revenue procedure, provided that the qualified user determines the subject and manner of the research in accordance with section 6.03(2), the qualified user retains exclusive title to any patent or other product of the research in accordance with section 6.03(3), and the nature of any license granted to the Federal Government or the sponsoring Federal agency (or to any third party nongovernmental person) to use the product of the research is no more than a nonexclusive, royalty-free license.

SECTION 7. EFFECT ON OTHER DOCUMENTS

Rev. Proc. 97-14 is modified and superseded.

SECTION 8. EFFECTIVE DATE

This revenue procedure is effective for any research agreement entered into, materially modified, or extended on or after June 26, 2007. In addition, an issuer may apply this revenue procedure to any research agreement entered into prior to June 26, 2007.

SECTION 9. DRAFTING INFORMATION

The principal authors of this revenue procedure are Vicky Tsilas and Johanna Som de Cerff of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Financial Institutions & Products). For further information regarding this revenue procedure, contact Johanna Som de Cerff at (202) 622-3980 (not a toll-free call).


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