James Mitchell

Award Year 

James Mitchell is a Technology Enterprise Specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). As the Technology Enterprise Specialist, he provides expert advice on all matters regarding intellectual property (IP), managing the bureau’s patent and licensing portfolio and coordinating with outside legal counsel, along with reviewing and negotiating technology transfer (T2) agreements on behalf of the USGS. (more)

Over the past year, Mitchell has demonstrated exceptional service through his capable leadership and expertise related to the Federal Technology Transfer Act (FTTA) and associated laws. He has produced a high volume of agreement reviews, and provided highly regarded advisory services to scientists and managers. He also provided training on intellectual property and licensing matters to various stakeholders and users within USGS and other Department of Interior agencies.

Mitchell employed an innovative approach to solving a trademark issue for a laboratory program for earthquake monitoring systems. He met with the program managers and private parties that wanted to commercialize the technology, was able to see their technology firsthand, and identified respective concerns and interests. Mitchell drafted commercial licenses for the technology that addressed the concerns expressed by the partners and provided them the flexibility to best exploit the technology.

While several companies developed their technology in partnership with USGS for a couple of years, Mitchell’s diligent efforts, legal training, and business insight provided USGS the ability to meet its targeted goals of granting its first commercial license in 2018. He truly has a passion for technology transfer and its importance to federal research and development. Mitchell’s strength lies in his ability to convey that passion, recognize opportunities, and creatively link IP with science to foster partnerships.

Mitchell has displayed an uncommon amount of enthusiasm and passion by volunteering to travel to various labs to speak with engineers and scientists about T2. The USGS has started to see a shift in culture from focusing purely on public release of scientific information to considering how T2 and IP could be used to better impact the public at large. As a result, scientists have now been preemptively contacting Mitchell to discuss patent scopes and how their proposed research might be affected by another patent.

One scientist describes Mitchell’s contribution as being able to add valuable insight (based on law and business) to topics in a manner that is much different than what would be expected from a typical scientist. The statement highlights the importance of having a Technology Transfer Office, which often comes down to thinking outside the box to help researchers engage others in a manner that promotes bringing research development to market.

Contact: James Mitchell, (703) 648-4344,