DOE Offers Deep Discount on Patent Licenses to Speed Tech Transfer


In a previous post, I wrote about the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Innovation Portal, an online tech transfer tool designed to link energy technologies developed by U.S. national laboratories and other research institutions with potential licensing and commercialization partners.

Last month, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge, a plan to encourage transfer of these technologies by reducing the cost and simplifying the process for obtaining an option agreement to license them.

In particular, DOE will establish a standard set of licensing terms for startups to reduce the upfront time and cost of negotiating and processing licenses and provide faster access to the technologies.

Starting on May 2, 2011, DOE will post its streamlined template option agreement online for entrepreneurs to submit to the laboratories. Applicants have to identify the technology of interest and submit a business plan to be considered for the program.

From May 2 through December 15, 2011, the total upfront cost of licensing DOE patents will be reduced to just $1,000 for a portfolio of up to three patents. According to the DOE press release, this represents a savings of $10,000-50,000 on average in upfront fees.

Other license terms, such as equity and royalties, will be negotiated on a case by case basis and will kick in only if the licensee company becomes commercially successful.

Any of the over 15,000 unlicensed patents and patent applications held by the national laboratories will be available for licensing under this program.

For more information on the program see the press release here, and for information on the available technologies see the Energy Innovation Portal.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@luce.com.



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