U.S. Patent Sales by Universities and Research Institutes
Forthcoming, Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (Jacob Rooksby, ed.)
30 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 15, 2019
In this chapter, we explore the extent to which universities and other nonprofit research institutes currently participate in the secondary market for patents. We document 220 assignments, involving a total of 544 U.S. patent assets, that appear to represent arms-length patent sales by universities (or other nonprofit research institutes) during the period 2012-2017. We present data on the entities and assets involved in these transactions, as well as the publicly available circumstances underlying each sale. Among other findings, we observe that foreign universities are the most active market participants. Overall, U.S. universities and labs account for less than one quarter of sales, and elite U.S. research universities are almost entirely absent from the market. We also find that few academic U.S. patent sales bear the hallmarks of technology transfer. Just eleven percent of assets appear to have been purchased with commercialization in mind. Virtually all other purchases appear to have been either defensive acquisitions by operating technology companies or purchases by nonpracticing entities. Finally, we consider what conclusions policymakers and university administrators may draw from our data.
Keywords: technology transfer, university patents, patent market, patent sales, patent assignment, nonpracticing entity, NPE, sovereign patent fund
JEL Classification: O34, I23, L3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation