And it was designed in conjunction with a University Technology Transfer Office.
SO, with that having been said...
The Bayh-Dole Act recognized the incredible potential of university inventions, yet a staggering number of promising technologies remain untapped; The economic and humanitarian benefits unrealized, because of the gap in getting inventions noticed and into the hands of companies with the development funding necessary to nurture these vital innovations and discoveries. Connecting companies with viable licensing opportunities remains the most significant challenge along the research-to-deployment continuum.
Currently, when an individual or organization wishes to enter into a non-exclusive license agreement for the use of commercialized intellectual property with a University, a manual process must be undertaken whereby both the potential licensee and employees of the Technology Transfer office can expect to engage in an inefficient, and occasionally arduous, licensing process.
First, the customer must identify the product he wishes to license and either, contact the inventor for information on how to license the IP, or figure out for himself how to engage the TTO.
Then he must either call or email the appropriate TTO employee and wait for a response, after which they receive further instructions regarding the exact license parameters and the processes and procedures they must undertake in order to complete what should be a relatively simple transaction.
In the best-case scenario, using some forward-thinking TTO’s web site, a customer might be able to:
- Obtain a couple of paragraphs of background information, a simple set of license instructions and a downloadable copy of the license, from the website, which is usually in PDF form.
- The customer must then mail, fax or email several hand-signed copies of the license back to the TTO.
- They must, also remit payment for the license, either by mailing a check or via wire transfer (which has its own set of instructions and manual internal processes.)
In either case, several, steps must be taken to reconcile this transaction in the accounting process. In cases that I am familiar with, the check comes in then sits on a desk or in a basket for a while. When it is opened, someone stamps a date on it and begins to enter the transaction and customer data into some central accounting system software (if they are lucky). Sometimes, however, the info gets added to the TTO’s tech management database but there is a separate process by which the university and the TTO have to account for the money. In those cases, another step is added to the process which means that the check has to clear the bank, then a TTO staffer has to find and enter the details of THAT process into a different system before materials can licenses are approved and sent to the licensee.
Finally, upon receipt of the Executed License, the “cutting edge” University forwards an electronic copy of the reproducible materials and content to the licensee. If the licensed materials are something that must be boxed up and shipped, there is yet another set of procedures for fulfillment and shipping communication. and, of course, all notifications and shipping/tracking documents must then be manually entered then be tracked in your CRM or technology management system.
However, in most cases, using the “Old school ways of doing things, getting your hands on the technology once you have jumped through these hoops will take at best, a few weeks, and most often several months.
Sadly, this is currently a “Best-Case” scenario for most TTO’s. Most often though, the customer, since she has already gone through the trouble of actually endeavoring to speak directly to someone at the Tech Transfer Office, says:
To which the Technology Manager inevitably says “of course; just let me send that to our lawyers and make sure it is OK with them.”
This action triggers the customer to suddenly believe that if there are lawyers involved, maybe theirs should be too. 2 months later the technology, which could have been licensed immediately had there been a mechanism in place for doing so, is still stuck in legal terms-and-conditions purgatory and might never make it out.
This is, simply, a poor way to treat a customer who wants nothing more than to find a useful technology, learn more about it, pay for and execute a license and fulfill the order. The worst part about it, for the TTO, isn’t even the delay; the worst part is that you have trained another customer to automatically assume that the terms and conditions, that are included in the licenses that you promote, are arbitrary and that one would be a sucker if they simply accepted them. This is the same feeling one would get if one were to go to a used car lot and tried to buy a car. We all know how much folks love to negotiate…