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Leading Research Institutions Release 'Good Practice' Tech-Transfer Guidelines

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Universities that want to license internally developed technology to the private sector should reserve the right to use their own inventions and strive to minimize the extent to which "future improvements” to these technologies are licensed, according to newly released tech-transfer guidelines.
These suggestions are part of a white paper released last week by a group of leading research universities and the Association of American Medical Colleges that aims to protect the public interest in cases when university-developed technologies are licensed to private parties.
The white paper, entitled “In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology,” is designed to encourage groups to pen tech-transfer agreements in order to propagate university-generated technologies, according to a statement from Stanford University, one of the authoring institutions.
“It may very well be the first document that comes from the community that suggests a set of good practices for the rest of the community,” Katherine Ku, director of technology licensing at Stanford, said in a statement.
Stanford said that the white paper, which can be seen here, grew out of a meeting on its campus last July that brought together university research officers and technology licensing directors from leading US research institutions.
The paper suggests the following nine points: 
  • Universities should reserve the right to practice licensed inventions, and to allow other nonprofit and governmental organizations to do so;
  • Exclusive licenses should be structured in a manner that encourages technology development and use;
  • Strive to minimize the licensing of "future improvements;"
  • Universities should anticipate and help to manage tech-transfer-related conflicts of interest;
  • Ensure broad access to research tools;
  • Enforcement action should be carefully considered;
  • Be mindful of export regulations;
  • Be mindful of the implications of working with patent aggregators; and
  • Consider including provisions that address unmet needs, such as those of neglected patient populations or geographic areas, giving particular attention to improved therapeutics, diagnostics, and agricultural technologies for the developing world.
In addition to Stanford, the paper was signed by the California Institute of Technology; Cornell University; Harvard University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of California system; the University of Illinois, Chicago and UI-Urbana-Champaign; University of Washington; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; and Yale University; as well as the AAMC.
This brief appears in the current issue of GenomeWeb News sister publication Biotech Transfer Week, which will run an expanded version in next Monday's issue.