Penn State to Auction Intellectual Property Licenses

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State plans to auction some good ideas. From March 31 through April 11, the University will conduct what is expected to be the first of many auction-style events to license intellectual property in a variety of categories. Winning bidders in this first auction will obtain licensing rights to patents derived from faculty research in the College of Engineering.

The auction is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation conducted directly by a university, according to Penn State Associate Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer Ron Huss.

The Intellectual Property Auction Web site — I-PAW — is now accessible at http://patents.psu.edu/ so that interested parties can view available IP, create an account and pre-register for the auction. The auction is being offered to the global market and is not restricted to parties in any particular geographic region.

“Penn State and other research universities typically have IP 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,” Huss said. “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.”

About 70 engineering patents in areas as diverse as acoustics, fuel cells and sensors will be available for license in this first auction. Required bid minimums on many will be as low as $5,000. The winning bidder will be required to enter into a license agreement with the University’s Office of Technology Management.

Penn State Interim Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey said the novel approach of an online auction was chosen in part to raise awareness among interested parties in business and industry that the University does have licenses available whose commercial applications could prove extremely valuable.

“As a land-grant institution, Penn State has always strived to pursue research that has real-world impact,” Sharkey said. “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.”

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