Challenges For Technology Licensing Offices In Japan

Robert A. Myers

American universities have been transferring their technology to industry since before World War II. This technology is now developed with the more than $35 billion that the universities receive annually from the federal government and industry, with the latter providing less than 10% of the total. The universities annually receive in total more than $1 billion in royalty payments, create hundreds of new start-up companies every year, and are the recipients of more than 3,400 U.S. patents. Most of the royalties are paid for biomedical and pharmaceutical (“bio” and “pharma”) research, with these funding companies usually insisting on and obtaining exclusive intellectual property (IP) rights. As a pure business model, this process is somewhat questionable for the universities, but the other benefits obtained by the universities and society more than compensate for the costs. This paper will address U.S. technology transfer based on broad experience in this field both with a major “customer”—IBM—and as a consultant to “buyers” and “sellers” of intellectual property. From this experience we will identify some of the challenges facing Technology Licensing Offices (TLO’s) as well as newly “privatized” Japanese universities, and propose some suggestions for what we believe are “best practices” in technology transfer


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