Chapter 54. University Licensing

Paul Olk

University of Denver

Commercializing patented research through licensing agreements has become more important to U.S. and European universities. While some universities have long supported practically oriented research and licensed inventions (Mowery and Sampat, 2001), historically most have not been interested in commercialization. This reflected a general bias in the U.S. towards more basic research and in Europe norms about university researchers, but not the universities, engaging in patenting activity (Verspagen, 2006).

This situation started to change in the 1980s. In the U.S., a defining event was the passage of the Patent and Trademark Law Amendment Act of l980, better known as the Bayh– Dole Act. Concerns that commercial benefits from publicly-funded research were not being realized led to an effort to realign incentives. Previously, if research was funded by federal grants, the findings were considered part of the public domain. No one company or individual could patent them. Central to the Act was the provision that a university could maintain ownership—via patenting—over technology developed from federally funded research. This encouraged universities to grant an exclusive license to an interested company and to share a portion of the licensing fee (typically one-third) with there searcher. It also led to many universities setting up Technology Transfer offices (TTOs) to encourage and coordinate the licensing of university-based ...

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