SAE Intellectual Property Policy FAQs


Q. What is SAE's IP policy regarding participation at a meeting - what becomes SAE's IP?

A. SAE deems each person serving on a committee to be an individual and thus must agree with the terms of SAE's copyright assignment for transfer of any copyrightable material contributed by such individual to SAE. SAE does not require such individual's disclosure of IP that belongs to his/her employer and thus assumes that each individual will not disclose such material to the committee. Draft and final standards are SAE property, as are records from technical committee meetings in the form of minutes, rosters, ballots, and other voting records.

Q. What is SAE's IP policy regarding minutes or other non-standards results from a meeting?

A. SAE's Technical Standards Board Governance Policy provides guidance regarding minutes and other records from technical committees: Technical Committee Minutes The minutes of the Technical Committee are considered business records of SAE and copies are not made available for public release. Copies of minutes will be provided only to: 1) Committee Voting members, 2) non-voting participants on the committee roster and 3) the SAE administrative bodies to which the committee reports. SAE Technical Committee minutes are open for public inspection and may be examined during business hours at SAE's offices at 400 Commonwealth Drive, Warrendale, PA 15096. Persons examining committee minutes may not make photo copies or scan the documents. Minutes and other Business Records of the Technical Committees shall not be distributed beyond the committee membership without prior approval from SAE Staff.

    3.4 Records
    The records of the Technical Standards Board, its Councils and its Technical Committees, shall be maintained for a reasonable time in the offices of SAE International where they will be available for inspection by members of the SAE and the public, except as the Technical Standards Board or the SAE legal counsel (in the case of classified material) directs otherwise. Minutes shall be maintained by SAE on SAE Standards Works/Forums for a period of not more than five (5) years. All other documents maintained by SAE on SAE Standards Works/Forums and all SAE hard copy documents which provide a basis for a Technical Report shall be discarded at the time of publication of the subject Technical Report. Refer to Appendix 4.2 - Retention Schedule.

      3.4.1 Technical Committee Rosters
      Technical Committee membership rosters constitute SAE business records Current and Non-Published Rosters
        Rosters listing Technical Committee members may only be provided to (a) members of the Technical Committee, (b) non-voting participants (excluding mailing list), and (c) the SAE administrative bodies to which the Technical Committee reports. Rosters may not be provided to any other party except to further SAE's activities. Note: Rosters of the TSC are internally classified as mailing lists and their release is governed in part by SAE Standard Operating Procedure Number 308 Rules for the External Release of SAE Mailing Lists. Communications with Technical Committees or Individual Technical Committee Members
        Individuals who wish to communicate with a Technical Committee may do so only through the SAE staff representative. Such correspondence should be sent to the SAE staff representative who will forward the material to the Chairperson. Contact information for the individual Technical Committee members may not be released without the permission of that member.

    3.4.2 Technical Committee Voting Records including Ballots with Comments
    Technical Standards Committee ballots and voting summaries are considered business records of SAE and copies are not made available for public release. Individual ballots and voting summaries identifying individual Technical Committee members are not retained.
    Refer to Section 1.10 of Appendix 4.6 for Technical Committee Rosters for American National Standards (ANS). Permitted Distribution
      During the period in which a document is in the balloting process, ballots and voting summaries may be provided to:

      1. Voting members of the Technical Committee
      2. Document sponsors
      3. Committee participants (excluding mailing list)

      Copies of ballots and voting summaries may not be provided to any other party.

Q. Can a committee participant or company representative copy, forward, or distribute drafts of Standards Committees' Technical Reports for review and comments?

A. Draft documents of an SAE International Technical Standards Committee shall not be shared, downloaded, duplicated or transmitted in any manner outside of the Technical Committee membership and its approved subcommittees, task forces, and/or workgroups. Standards development is a collaborative process which requires active participation from beginning to end. If there is a need to collect comments from non-members of the SAE committee, the following options are available:

  • Non-members may request membership in the committee, subcommittee, task force, or workgroup for which their industry expertise is needed.
  • Non-members may attend scheduled meetings which are open to the public and where the draft documents may be reviewed.
  • Committee Chairperson may request permission from SAE Intellectual Property department (via committee SAE support staff) to share specified portions of the draft document to identified industry experts not currently on the roster of the Technical Standards committee, subcommittee, task force or workgroups.
  • The draft document exchange process is guided by terms and conditions of an agreement between SAE International and the organization with which the non-member is affiliated.

Q. What is the SAE patent policy with regard to standards in development? What must be disclosed, by whom and by when during the standards development process?

A. SAE's IP Policy provides the following guidance:

    4 Patents
    It has been traditionally the position of SAE to avoid the use of patented technology in Technical Reports where the principal objective is conformance to the Technical Report as defined by the SAE Technical Standards Board. However, with the advent of more complex technologies, it is not always possible to provide Technical Reports that meet today's needs without incorporating technologies that are patented. It has become difficult, if not impossible; to develop standards that do not take advantage of or otherwise incorporate the use of products, systems or process that implementation would necessarily infringe a claim of such a patent. Accordingly, SAE Technical Reports may include the known use of patent(s), including patent applications, if there is in the opinion of the committee developing the Technical Report technical justification and provided that SAE receive assurance from the patent holder that it will license applicants under reasonable terms and conditions for the purpose of implementing the standard. This assurance shall be provided without coercion and prior to the approval of the standard or reaffirmation when a patent becomes known after the initial approval of the standard. This assurance shall be a letter that is in the form of either:

      4.1 A general disclaimer to the effect that the patentee will not enforce any of its present or future patent(s) whose claims would be necessarily infringed by implementation of the proposed SAE Technical Report against any person or entity implementing the mandatory provisions of the Technical Report to effect compliance or;

      4.2 A statement that a license will be made available to all applicants without compensation or under reasonable rates, with reasonable terms and conditions that are demonstrably free of any unfair discrimination.

Q. If a company representative shares company technical requirements at an SAE standards development meeting, has that representative given up the rights for his company to use those requirements in other company documents?

A. No. If a company representative communicates requirements to the committee, and these requirements are adopted by the committee and incorporated into an SAE standard, the representative's company may continue to use these requirements for any purpose. However, the right to use its own company requirements does not have a corollary right to copy the SAE Standard, except in the case where such requirements communicated to the committee were contained in a written document which comprises substantially all of the SAE Standard. In such case, SAE would have needed permission from the company to incorporate such written material and the company may retain the right to continue using its own technical requirements as set forth in its written document.

Q. What are the specific responsibilities of an SAE Document Sponsor relative to IP?

A. The SAE Technical Standards Board Governance Policy outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Document Sponsor as follows:

"...Before commencing the writing of the Technical Report, document sponsors and participating members of the applicable technical committee shall acknowledge SAE International's Intellectual Property rights in accordance with Section 3.2 of this policy and sign a Copyright Agreement acknowledging that the Technical Report is a work made for hire pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Act or, if not so defined, transferring the copyright in the Technical Report to SAE. Alternative electronic methods of acknowledgement of release of copyright (IP) should be considered an acceptable means of compliance."

The document sponsor shall submit the balloted and approved version of the document to the SAE staff for publishing. At any stage in the ballot process, typographical corrections will require approval of the document sponsor. Any additional changes, including incorrect references or mathematical formulas will require the approval of the Technical Committee.


Q. How do I obtain permission to reprint information from an SAE standard?

A. These requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the intellectual property staff. Details on how to request permission are available at

Q. What information should be included in a request to reprint information?

A. Please see for complete details on making your request.

Q. Do I need to get permission to make a copy or several copies of an SAE standard?

A. Yes. These requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the intellectual property staff. Please see for complete details on requesting permission to make copies.

Q. Do I need permission to reprint the abstract or scope of an SAE standard?

A. Yes, according to U.S. copyright law, the scope is a derivative work of the standard—it is part of the document and therefore copyrighted. Requests to reprint abstracts or scopes are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the intellectual property staff. Please see for complete details on requesting permission to reprint abstracts or scopes.

Q. What is SAE's policy about extracts - how much can you extract before it becomes a copyright infringement?

A. Extracting requires a case-by-case determination by the SAE intellectual property staff. Please see for complete details.

Q. What is SAE's policy on creating a derivative work from an SAE standard, such as translations, computer programs and models, "shredded" or "smart" versions of an SAE document?

A. Each derivative work situation is unique and requires a case-by-case determination by the SAE intellectual property staff. Please see for complete details about requesting permission to create derivative works.

Q. What is SAE's policy regarding tailoring of an SAE document—does tailoring violate SAE's IP?

A. Usage of any portion of an SAE-copyrighted document, whether it be by excerpting, extracting, abstracting, tailoring, or other form of usage of an SAE-copyrighted document, requires a case-by-case determination by the SAE intellectual property staff. Details on how to request permission are available at

Q. What if I want to request a variation on an SAE standard when I am writing purchasing specifications?

A. Purchasing agents or others who need to purchase products or services based on an SAE standard may refer to the standard (i.e., "normative reference"), and then outline what variation they would like. For example, if metal tubing manufactured to a certain SAE standard was needed in a different material than what is called for in the SAE standard, the purchaser could request, "Metal tubing manufactured to SAE xyz-standard, except that the tubing material must be zinc plated."

Q. Do I need to get permission to use a table or a figure from an SAE standard in a presentation or training seminar?

A. Yes. Requests to use tables or figures from an SAE standard are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the intellectual property staff. Please see for complete details about requesting to use figures or tables from SAE standards.

Q. Do I need permission to reference an SAE standard?

A. No, but you do need to cite the reference thoroughly so that your readers can find the document if they would like to read further. Complete references for a standard would include the title, document number, publication date, and SAE International as the publisher. For example:

Qualifications for Four-Way Subbase Mounted Air Valves for Automotive Manufacturing Applications, SAE J2051, May 2005, Published by SAE International, Warrendale, PA.

Q. What should I do if I become aware that an organization/company is claiming conformance to a draft SAE standard?

A. SAE would appreciate hearing of such claims. Please email the details, including the name of the organization claiming conformance, contact information (address, email, and phone number), and where you saw the claim to The SAE intellectual property staff will investigate and if necessary send the organization notification that they are claiming conformance to a standard that has not been thoroughly reviewed and approved by SAE.

Q. What if I have additional questions concerning copyright, trademarks, or patents?

A. Committee members should ask any questions they have to their staff representative. This person has received special IP training and will be able to answer most committee questions. If there are questions that the staff representative is unable to answer, he or she will work with SAE's intellectual property staff to find the answer and communicate back to the committee member(s). If you are interested in learning more about copyrights, trademarks and patents, the U.S. Copyright Office website address is

Q. What about standards that were once published by the DOD and therefore in the public domain, but then converted word-for-word into an SAE standard and copyrighted by SAE?

A. As part of MilSpec Reform, hundreds of military specifications were turned over to SAE as well as other standards organizations for technical responsibility and future maintenance. In this transition, SAE and the other non-government standards organizations were assigned the IP of selected DOoD documents,. In cooperation with the DoD, SAE developed a word-for-word conversion process to put the standards into SAE format and to shift ownership. Once converted, SAE began technically revising and maintaining the documents based upon industry needs. While this process created a clean and quick "hand off," it has also caused a great deal of confusion related to copyright. The documents transferred to SAE and published as SAE standards are copyrighted by SAE and cannot be reprinted or reproduced without the expressed permission of SAE, even though the text of the document is identical to the text of the former military specification. Military specifications, including cancelled ones, are in the public domain and copies can be obtained by contacting the DoD.