University Of Copenhagen Giving Away Patents For Free… If You Have A Credible Plan
from the tech-transfer dept
We’ve talked in the past about the whole concept of tech transfer offices at universities. This was an idea that became popular a couple decades back, that universities, with all their researchers, could create a profit center by licensing or selling the patents that come from university research. The reality is that this has been a dismal failure. Most universities (like many patent holders who aren’t actually building products in the marketplace) totally and completely overvalue their patents, making it completely uneconomical for anyone to license the patents. In the end, this has made the vast majority of tech transfer offices cost centers rather than profit centers. They hired lots of people, which is expensive, and they haven’t seen much of a return on it.
Even worse, this focus on locking up knowledge and research from universities has been disastrous on actual advancement and the spreading of knowledge, which many of these universities claim is a key goal. Professors are told not to share results or data or plans with professors at other universities, for fear of “losing out” on a patent. The whole academic culture of sharing and building on each others’ knowledge is held back tremendously. It’s a huge shame.
Thankfully, a few universities are realizing this and are starting to push back. Last year, we noted that the University of Glasgow was freeing up most of its “intellectual property,” for anyone who could use it. And, now, hrusha alerts us to the news that the University of Copenhagen (known as KU) is offering free licenses to anyone who can present a “credible” plan for bringing a product to market within 3 years.
It’s not a totally open and free system, but it’s certainly better than most. The encouragement on commercialization will hopefully help get the practical implications of the research out into the marketplace quickly. I’m not so sure how they determine what is and what is not a “credible plan,” so hopefully they err on the side of granting such licenses whenever possible. Hopefully more and more universities will begin to realize that locking up research and expecting to get paid for it is a dead end road that goes against the core principles of most institutes of higher learning.