On March 31, Penn State will be the first university in the country to directly auction off licenses to its intellectual property — specifically, the rights to certain pieces of university research conducted by College of Engineering professors.
The licenses that will be auctioned off range in starting bid prices from $5,000 to $50,000, and all currently fall under the general engineering category. Items for the first auction include work in fuel cells, acoustics, and sensors. A full list of licenses can be found at patents.psu.edu.
“Penn State and other research universities typically have IP [intellectual property]that has been marketed by their tech transfer offices but for a variety of reasons has not been picked up by a commercial entity and therefore sits on the proverbial shelf,” said Penn State Associate Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer Ron Huss. “This auction is an effort to get our IP off of the shelf and in the hands of companies that can use the technology, at very favorable terms and price points. The buyers get the rights to use the IP, and the University gets a financial return. It’s a win-win situation.”
In other words, Penn State is trying to liquidate the patents it hasn’t been able to sell to industry via this auction.
The idea for an auction didn’t come from a desire to get the most money possible out of the license sale, but from a push to increase knowledge of university patents that can be used commercially.
“As a land-grant institution, Penn State has always strived to pursue research that has real-world impact,” said Penn State Interim Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey. “Our researchers have worked to develop IP that has the potential to add significant value to companies’ products and services, but it has no value if people are not made aware of it.”
The first round of auctions will take place from March 31 to April 11 and solely cover engineering patents, but more auctions are expected later and will include patents in the fields of biotechnology, chemistry, and information services, among others.