Your source for expert commentary on IP management issues.
Technology and Product Licensing
Key Implications and Best Practices
Topic Chapters Show All Abstracts
Abstract: After providing an overview of licensing in the field of biotechnology, the chapter carefully examines the key components of a license agreement, particularly in relation to the field’s unique concerns. The chapter raises a number of issues that licensors and licensees should consider when negotiating patent license agreements. It offers precise definitions of key terms, points out areas of the agreement that merit special attention (including the relative merits of exclusive and nonexclusive licensing), considers the difficult question of how to determine a patent’s value (especially when the patent is being used for screening purposes), and gives much-needed attention to the complexities of confidentiality agreements, especially those involving academic research institutions. To make negotiations easier and more realistic, the incentives for licensors and licensees are discussed, as are some of the finer points of development collaboration. In addition, the author offers some advice about how to define patent misuse, offering some helpful suggestions about what to do should things go bad. The goal of this chapter, however, is to ensure that agreements succeed.
Licensing Agreements in Agricultural Biotechnology
Abstract: Though similar in many ways to other kinds of license agreements, agri-biotech licenses have some unique elements that require special attention. Considering first the similarities, this chapter looks closely at the typical boilerplate language that all license agreements share and outlines the basic structures and concerns of all such agreements. The chapter then turns to the singularities of agri-biotech licenses, focusing on such issues as multiple property types that often cover a single technology and/or product, freedom to operate issues that drive anti-royalty-stacking provisions, philanthropic- and humanitarian use clauses, and stewardship obligations.
Abstract: Variety licensing is a tool for plant breeding companies and institutions to commercialize their varieties and to transfer technology to farmers efficiently. As the seed industry becomes increasingly privatized, interest in in-licensing new varieties, both from national and international sources, is likely to increase. Likewise, financial pressure on public sector breeding will increase the need for the targeted commercialization of varieties through out-licensing. As the seed sector becomes more transparent, the market should see more foreign investment from companies who wish to make their varieties available through licensing. That, in turn, should promote local seed production and variety testing. The licensee and the licensor should focus primarily on the practical content of the license agreement, specifically, exclusivity to plant material and territory, plant variety protection, variety trials, national registration, royalty payment, and information transfer. The purpose of this chapter is to provide guidance for prospective licensors and licensees in the practical issues of in- and out-licensing of varieties.
Potential Use of a Computer-Generated Contract Template System (CoGenCo) to Facilitate Licensing of Traits and Varieties
Abstract: Licensing between companies of both traits and varieties is routine, and there is no reason that it should be anything other than routine between companies and public sector institutions, as well. Some public entities struggle to gain experience in this area. This leads companies to shun negotiations and, even, discussions. Yet opportunities for the public sector to in-license traits (in the form of well-characterized and deregulated transgenic “events”) and varieties are vast and could lead to earlier access with respect to transgenic events (through backcrossing into local varieties) and to improved varieties for subsistence farmers. In order to improve the ability of the public sector to both in-license and out-license germplasm, a test version of a software program, the “Computer Generated Contract Template System” (CoGenCo), was developed. It aims to facilitate the exchange (or licensing) of commercial varieties by “walking” potential licensors and licensees though a systematic list of questions and tested parameters. CoGenCo is a pragmatic way of increasing the licensing of both finished varieties and germplasm containing transgenes for backcrossing, and its flexibility would make it especially suited for use in developing countries. This chapter explains the concept behind the software’s test version and leads the reader through its use. The authors very much welcome comments and suggestions about the software and look forward to collaborating with interested parties to further develop CoGenCo into a comprehensive and widely available system.
Abstract: Exploiting the overlap between intellectual property (IP) categories, especially between patents and trade secrets, is an important facet of IP management. Patents (which require full disclosure) and trade secrets (which are kept confidential) are not incompatible. On the contrary, they can complement one another: patents protect inventions and trade secrets protect collateral know-how. Using patent and trade-secret protection together in a synergistic manner results in a potent exclusivity. Moreover, as licensing has become the preferred instrument for technology transfer, most technology licenses are hybrids, covering both patents and trade secrets. This situation has evolved because licenses that cover patents but do not allow access to collateral know-how usually do not permit patented technology to become commercialized. Despite the ease of obtaining trade-secret protection—immediate efficacy and low cost—this type of IP protection is too often neglected.
Use of Trademarks in a Plant-Licensing Program
Abstract: The principal forms of IP rights protection for plant varieties are plant patents, plant variety protection patents (PVPs), and utility patents. However, trademarks can also provide long-lasting and significant protection for plant varieties. One advantage that trademarks have over the statutory forms of IP protection for plants (plant patents, PVPs, utility patents) is that trademarks can be protected indefinitely, as long as the product is marketed and the trademark enforced. The most important agreements dealing with international trademark registration are the Madrid system and the Madrid Protocol (of which the United States is a signatory). Licensing of a trademark can either stand alone or be combined with another form of IP rights protection, such as with a hybrid PVP/trademark license.
Commercialization Agreements: Practical Guidelines in Dealing with Options
Abstract: An option to acquire rights in university intellectual property (IP) may be encountered in several guises: as a stand-alone agreement, as a clause within an agreement (for example, a sponsored research agreement or a material transfer agreement), or as a “pipeline,” or IP framework, agreement for a university spinout company. Although the grant of an option may often form quite a small part of a larger agreement, the grant can raise important issues in terms of an organization’s IP commercialization strategy. This is especially true of pipeline agreements that are, effectively, a specialized form of option agreement. The purpose of this chapter is threefold:
The chapter attempts to provide information that is useful for both the beginner and the experienced research-contracts or technology transfer professional. The breadth of material covered may give the mistaken impression that university contracts are wrought with legal and commercial difficulties. Usually, this is not the case. But sometimes differences of expectation, practice, or legal culture can arise between parties negotiating an agreement, particularly in international transactions.
Abstract: Field-of-use licensing provides the licensor with greater control over the use of its intellectual property, while maximizing the use and value of the technology. In order to maximize the use of a given technology, managers will have some additional work to do as they identify, negotiate with, and manage more than one licensee. Special issues related to multiple licensees in distinct or overlapping fields will have to be handled with forethought and a balancing of interests. When is field-of-use licensing worth the extra effort? When more than one company is needed to fully develop a technology’s potential, when different licensees are needed to address different markets, or when field-of-use licensing has the potential to significantly increase the financial return from a technology. In all of these situations, field-of-use licensing can produce better results for everyone involved.
Problems with Royalty Rates, Royalty Stacking, and Royalty Packing Issues
In-Licensing Strategies by Public-Sector Institutions in Developing Countries
Abstract: In the past, it was possible for some countries to ignore IP (intellectual property) management while pursuing economic development and improved public health. Globalization, however, has brought the world closer and closer together, and with the advent of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), no country can afford to be isolated from the global IP system. This chapter explains how developing countries can use this new system to their advantage through in-licensing technologies (that is, bringing technology into the public sector through patent license agreements). Offering an overview of the usual requirements of a license agreement, the chapter also considers issues that are uniquely relevant to public-sector institutions in developing countries as they negotiate such licenses.
A Checklist for Negotiating License Agreements
Abstract: This chapter provides a road map for licensing professionals to identify the most common terms, contractual obligations, and other provisions that are likely to be encountered in crafting a license agreement. Emphasis is placed on agricultural technology licenses. Since most people engaged in deal making are involved in multiple deals at the same time, important aspects can be forgotten or overlooked at any time and for any deal. The checklist format allows the licensing practitioner to check off each item once it has been addressed to the parties’ satisfaction. While expansive, it does not necessarily fit all contexts and is therefore intended to serve as a basis from which institutions and individuals can develop their own checklists.
Related Chapters Show All Abstracts
Business Partnerships in Agriculture and Biotechnology that Advance Early-State Technology
Abstract: Given the expertise of large agricultural companies with respect to product development from cutting-edge research, these companies often choose to in-license technologies from small biotechnology companies and universities rather than relying solely on in-house efforts. This chapter provides an overview of the interest of large industry players in sourcing early-stage technologies from companies, how best to communicate those opportunities to companies, and what to expect in terms of valuing the technology and structuring a licensing deal. Large companies are generally interested in creating new products or new technologies that are commercially viable and that help establish sustainable agricultural economies. But, in addition, they generally support providing products and technologies that bolster subsistence farming and humanitarian efforts, while recognizing the need to protect the company’s intellectual property against unauthorized uses for commercial or other unintended purposes.
Ensuring Developing-Country Access to New Inventions: The Role of Patents and the Power of Public Sector Research Institutions
Abstract: If universities adopt sound licensing practices, the universities will not only help stimulate investment in research on diseases that primarily afflict the poor in developing countries, but also ensure that the products of the research are affordable and widely available in those countries. Ensuring global access is one of the central goals of intellectual property management. But universities confront two main obstacles in their efforts to achieve the goal. First, university administrators, technology transfer officers, and business people are too often unaware of both the need to ensure access to new health technologies in developing countries and the manner in which patenting and licensing practices can be an integral component of global access strategies. Second, there is only a short history of experience in incorporating such concerns in negotiating licenses, so no best practices have yet evolved. This chapter offers a few possible approaches to ensuring broad access to university inventions while preserving incentives to development, including patenting inventions in a select list of developing countries. The chapter concludes by urging all of the players in this field to build upon their own experience and to take creative risks in the pursuit of new solutions.
Facilitating Assembly of and Access to Intellectual Property: Focus on Patent Pools and a Review of Other Mechanisms
Abstract: This chapter reviews different forms of IP (intellectual property) “assembly” mechanisms (royalty-collection agencies, information clearinghouses, technology clearinghouses, open-source innovation clearinghouses, honest brokers, and other forms of facilitators, IP management services, IP commercialization agents, the services of merchant banks and venture capital enterprises, and patent pools). Emphasis is placed on patent pools, which are voluntary agreements between two or more patent owners to license one or more of their patents to one another or to third parties. Although there are many forms of patent pools, such arrangements fundamentally consist of the interchange (cross-licensing) of rights to essential patents by a number of entities, as well as an agreed framework for out-licensing the pooled intellectual property to each other and/or to third parties, including an agreed-pricing and royalty-sharing scheme.
There are both benefits and risks associated with patent pools. Benefits include greater ease with respect to resolving patent conflicts, making assembled patents in the pool available to others, and resolving disputes over blocking patents. Risks include antitrust liability. Under certain circumstances, patent pools have application in the area of humanitarian licensing as instruments of assembly of intellectual property.
Facilitating Humanitarian Access to Pharmaceutical and Agricultural Innovation
Abstract: Because certain patenting and licensing strategies can inhibit the development and dissemination of products for developing countries, intellectual property management strategies need to be developed that can help remove some of these obstacles. It is equally important to apply creative patent management strategies that actively promote access to needed products in developing countries. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that patents on research inputs do not discourage or unreasonably increase the cost for product development that targets needs in small or unprofitable markets. The American Association for the Advancement of Science project on Science and Intellectual Property in the Public Interest convened a working group to explore these issues in 2004. This chapter draws upon the expertise of that group to identify licensing strategies that are effective in promoting humanitarian access to health and agricultural product innovations and expanding their use among poor and disadvantaged groups, particularly in low-income countries. The chapter encourages more public sector IP managers to understand and employ strategies that will achieve these goals and seeks to help private sector licensees to understand the rationale behind and potential benefits of such strategies. Indeed, humanitarian licensing strategies should more and more become the norm by contributing to the development and dissemination of essential medicines and agricultural technologies for developing countries.
Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer by the University of California Agricultural Experiment Station
Abstract: One of the primary missions of the University of California Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) is to create knowledge and develop technologies that improve the productivity and environmental sustainability of agriculture in California. In addition to the public release of information and the educational activities of cooperative extension services, the University of California places the inventions of AES faculty directly into commerce through the process of patenting and technology transfer. This channel is particularly useful—and often essential—when further financial investments are necessary to develop the technology for practical applications or to manufacture, market, and distribute new products that incorporate the new technology. This report documents the patenting and formal technology transfer activities of the University of California Agricultural Experiment Station over the last 40 years.
More than 800 inventions have been reported by AES researchers between 1960 and 2001. These inventions are categorized into the five broad technology areas: biotechnology (49%), plant varieties (19%), chemicals (14%), equipment/machinery (13%), and environmental (1%). Biotechnology inventions were entirely absent until the mid-1980s, but the category has grown rapidly over the last 15 years. The growth in the number of biotechnology-related inventions has occurred not at the expense of inventions reported in the areas of plant varieties, agricultural equipment, or novel chemicals, all of which have shown a relatively stable level of activity.
Financial returns from the licensing of AES inventions was US$1.4 million in fiscal year 1982 (2.5 million in 2001 dollars) but had grown to US$12 million by fiscal year 2001. After accounting for expenses associated with patenting new inventions and distribution of a share of income to inventors, AES inventions returned over US$6 million to the university in fiscal year 2001. Since 1982, the cumulative financial return has totaled US$105.2 million in fees and royalties. About 87% of that income has been derived from the licensing of plant varieties in spite of the fact that they compose only 19% of the AES inventions, indicating the commercial importance of UC plant varieties. To date, relatively few biotechnology- or environmental-related inventions have been commercialized, but the extensive and growing UC portfolio in these areas should provide a strong base for future licensing activity.
IP Portfolio Management: Negotiating the Information Labyrinth
Abstract: The management of intellectual property is all about managing innovation with the procedures and processes that are required to turn that innovation into valuable patent rights. A truly strategic approach to IP management will span conception to product market release. Integrating IP management into the R&D, advance development, and product development cycles seamlessly provides opportunities to gain and enhance IP protection while offering the potential to reduce risk and lower costs. The following chapter discusses some of the key elements of IP portfolio management and how the combination of the right IP tools, procedural know-how, and organizational attributes and behaviors can contribute to successful implementation.
Negotiating an Agreement: Skills, Tactics, and Best Practices
Abstract: License negotiations involve substantial real or potential value. They therefore should be supported by a team of experts. The essential skills and expertise needed for conducting successful negotiations include: business strategy and development for leading the negotiations, marketing for estimating commercial potential, law for evaluating IP and patents and carrying out a variety of related tasks, science and medicine for evaluating new and potential health products, manufacturing and production know-how to determine equipment and additional training needs, and finance for analyzing input from other experts on the team to combine into a comprehensive report. The strength of such a team is in its interdisciplinary composition; each of the skill areas can complement the other. From the perspective of international licensing, licensors can seek to improve the availability of health products in developing countries, possibly moving from the “traditional” approach to licensing toward one that incorporates public sector needs. The best approach for a public sector organization negotiating an agreement with a private sector entity is usually to offer initial terms that the organization would be willing to agree to if it were on the other side of the table. Negotiating a fair licensing agreement should not be seen as a process of “bargaining.” Rather, a licensing agreement is establishing, in written form, the rules of operation for an ongoing relationship where mutual trust and confidence will be necessary for success.
Abstract: This chapter provides an introduction to open source software licensing. The chapter seeks to demystify the concept of open source so that intellectual property (IP) owners and managers can decide whether an open source approach is worth pursuing. The chapter explains the principles of free and open source software licensing and outlines the decisions that an innovator must make when deciding which strategy to use for developing a new innovation. Also explained are the differences between open source and public domain, and between the uses of the terms copyleft and academic to describe open source licenses, as well as the incentives (financial and otherwise) for open source licensing. Finally, the author identifies important considerations regarding the possibilities for open source licensing in fields other than software development, particularly biomedicine and agricultural biotechnology.
Patent Licensing for Small Agricultural Biotechnology Companies
Abstract: A small agricultural biotechnology (agri-biotech) company needs to establish a strong IP portfolio. Such a portfolio provides a foundation for R&D, encourages outside investment and funding, and supports product commercialization. An important step in establishing an IP portfolio is in-licensing patent rights from third-party patent holders. Nonexclusive licenses typically give a company freedom to operate and open up the possibility of creating commercializable products. Exclusive licenses give a company an exclusive position for commercialization under the patents in question.
This chapter discusses in-licensing as it applies to small agri-biotech companies. It describes the types of technologies that may be subject to in-licensing, the procedures attendant upon in-licensing, and the terms that may be delineated by in-licenses.
Abstract: Research tools encompass a wide range of resources, including genes/gene fragments, cell lines, monoclonal antibodies, reagents, animal models, growth factors, combinatorial chemistry and DNA libraries, clones and cloning tools such as polymerase chain reaction, methods, laboratory equipment and machines, databases and computer software. Access to research tools is integral to advancing progress in biotechnological R&D, in both the biomedical and agricultural sciences. However, a complex web of research tool patents has arisen as a result of the revolution in molecular biology and coincident changes in public policy and patent law. These patents can pose a potential block to accessing research tools. For developing countries, several approaches can be formulated and then implemented in order to overcome potential problems associated with research tools. These include changes in patenting policies, research exemptions in patent law to reduce the risk of infringement in R&D, compulsory licensing to allow access to upstream technologies, and institutional adaptations to facilitate access to needed technologies, such as guidelines intended to promote more appropriate behavior by participants in the system. With carefully formulated, multitiered approaches, research tool patenting and licensing (and its possible impact on innovation in health and agricultural research) may be effectively managed.
Pragmatic and Principled: DNDi’s Approach to IP Management
Abstract: The mission of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is to develop safe, effective, and affordable new drugs for patients suffering from neglected diseases and to ensure equitable access to these drugs. DNDi believes that intellectual property (IP) rights should not pose a barrier to access to these medicines. Hence, a balanced approach to IP management is critical for effective implementation of DNDi’s mission. The organization has written an IP policy that both encapsulates and articulates DNDi’s approach to IP based on core principles and beliefs. The policy reflects the DNDi philosophy, vision, and mission, ensuring that its products are accessible and affordable to patients who need them most. DNDi recognizes the reality of IP and seeks to implement its humanitarian mission using best, pragmatic practices for IP management. Indeed, DNDi has already demonstrated that this is feasible, having successfully negotiated with both private and public sector institutions in order to actualize its principled mission.
Abstract: The mission of global health product development partnerships (PDPs) is to develop effective, affordable health products and make them available and affordable to those in need. The not-for-profit product development partnerships (PDPs) often seek for-profit partners to access essential technology, expertise, and resources. These may be early-stage companies, leveraging philanthropic and government resources to develop a platform technology or established companies building out from existing markets or testing new technologies. Such not-for-profit/for-profit partnerships require unique product development and IP (intellectual property) strategies that both recognize the company’s need for commercial benefit and deliver important health products to developing countries.
Abstract: An explicit reservation of rights in a commercial technology license can ensure that the licensor’s institutional objectives to support humanitarian applications of its technology are not inadvertently blocked or sidetracked by overly broad terms in the commercial license. Many universities routinely use a reservation of rights to guarantee continued use of licensed technologies within the ongoing research or educational programs of the university. Clauses included in license agreements to reserve rights for humanitarian use of technology are still rare, but awareness is increasing of the utility and importance of such clauses, particularly as philanthropic-research sponsors begin to require grantees to ensure that results and discoveries will be made available for humanitarian purposes. The structure of a clause to reserve rights for humanitarian use ideally both expresses the philosophical intent of the licensee and clearly defines the boundaries of humanitarian use, particularly in relation to commercial use.
Abstract: In the health and agricultural sciences, biological materials were once freely and widely exchanged. But more and more, these materials have gained commercial value. Public sector institutions, as well as private companies, have recognized, therefore, that proprietary protection of these materials may be necessary. Material transfer agreements (MTAs) are legal instruments that define terms for the transfer of tangible biological materials between or among two or more parties. MTAs are bailments that transfer possession but not title: the party who transfers the materials retains full ownership; the party who receives the materials holds them in trust. Transfer is governed by contract, ideally specifying the term of the transfer, how the materials may and may not be used, and other related issues, such as confidentiality. In addition, an MTA may contain licensing provisions for the transfer of embedded intellectual property (IP) rights (patent rights). Hence, an MTA can be a hybrid instrument, covering the transfer of both tangible property (via bailment and contract) and intangible property (via licensing of patent rights). Biological materials transferred using MTAs include reagents, cell lines, antibodies, research tools, insertional mutant populations, genome sequence databases, novel vectors, and plant genetic resources. Due to divergent institutional priorities, material transfers between the private and public sectors are generally more complex than those between public sector institutions.
Abstract: This chapter explains the basics of the various ways of estimating value of a new technology, focusing on the importance of agreeing on the value before finalizing a technology transfer deal. Indeed, value is simply the negotiated amount arrived at between two parties. Although there are many ways to place a value on a technology, most licensing deals focus on royalty amount, since it spreads the risk between the technology provider and the developer. The percentage assigned to royalty has to be negotiated. Several factors will affect royalty value: level of market demand, the improvement the technology can bring to the final product, whether or not other investments will be needed to develop the final product, and, most importantly, the predicted rate of uptake in the marketplace. Some understanding of these factors, or at least the procedures used to estimate them, will enhance one’s ability to negotiate a deal that will both help bring the technology to market and nurture the relationship between the parties, thus facilitating any future technology transfer deals.
Abstract: When public–sector organizations and public–private product development partnerships (PDPs) manage intellectual property (IP), they need to balance the commercial interests of private–sector manufacturers with the public sector’s mission to obtain access to products at the lowest possible cost. An important tool for achieving this balance is the detailed definition of contractual milestones, which should clearly specify the terms for pricing to the public sector, territory and exclusivity, regulatory work, and time to market. Milestones should not, however, be cast in stone. Based on detailed analyses of market conditions, milestones need to remain adjustable throughout the life of the contract. When well defined, milestones can be used to ensure the availability of the most modern healthcare products to the developing world. After all, for the public sector, successful IP management is defined by how many poor people a product will reach, how easily it will be available to them, and who and how many will be able to afford the product. Accordingly, out-licensing intellectual property from public–sector-based organizations to private–sector partners requires the licensor to actively guard public–sector interests.
Abstract: There seem to be new biotechnology initiatives springing up in almost every country and every region, no matter how big or small. This is the case for both developed countries and many developing countries. At the same time, many studies seem to suggest that the industrial dynamics of the biotechnology sector strongly favor only a few globally important locations. These are characterized by well-established relations between small R&D companies and the presence of venture capitalists, big multinational corporations, and service providers. The tendency of biotechnology clusters to form in certain locations raises some questions. Can all these new initiatives be successful? Can biotechnology research clusters develop and prosper on a smaller scale? The aim of this chapter is to discuss ideas for building successful biotechnology clusters in less-developed places. Using the example of Turku, Finland, the chapter analyzes how public policy and local activity can “fill the gaps” in the innovation system, thereby facilitating the emergence of a biotechnology industry. Although this case study is from a developed country, many developing countries face similar challenges to those Turku has faced.