The Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) was established in 1970 to manage the intellectual property assets of Stanford University. OTL evaluates, markets, and licenses technology owned by the University. OTL's mission is to encourage effective technology transfer for the public benefit as well as generating royalty income for Stanford to benefit research and education. OTL is one of the country's most active offices in the field of technology transfer from the university to industry. Our staff, most of whom are professionals engaged directly in licensing, manages over 3,000 active dockets.
The OTL receives invention disclosures from Stanford faculty, staff and students. We evaluate these disclosures for their commercial possibilities, and when possible license them to industry. If the inventions are successfully licensed, cash royalties collected by OTL provide funding to the inventors' departments and schools, as well as personal shares for the inventors themselves.
We typically begin the licensing process by reviewing an invention with the inventors to learn about potential applications. We then develop a licensing strategy, consider the technical and market risks, and decide whether to patent the invention. Together with the inventors, we try to find companies that might be interested in the invention and seek a product champion within a company before negotiating a licensing agreement.
Although patentable inventions constitute the majority of OTL's licensing activities, we also handle copyright (software and other content), Tangible Research Property (TRP), and outgoing Material Transfer Agreements for biological materials.
Fast Facts FY2023
Why We Do It
In 1980, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 96-517, the Bayh-Dole Act, which provides that rights to inventions resulting from government-sponsored research at universities would be assigned to the universities.
While it is relatively easy to measure OTL's performance in direct financial terms, it is more difficult to characterize the less tangible benefits of technology licensing. Nonetheless, technology licensing has provided such valuable benefits.
Who benefits from licensing:
- Stanford inventors
- Silicon Valley/Biotech Bay
- The U.S. Government
- The Public
At OTL, the close relationships we have built with both Stanford faculty and outside industry afford us a special opportunity to help facilitate the transfer of technology in ways that will benefit society for generations. Our charter is to create new connections between inventors and industry. We are planting seeds today for the products of tomorrow.
For more about technology transfer and its benefits to society, read this FAQ from the Association of University Technology Transfer Managers (AUTM).
Socially Responsible Licensing
Stanford is committed to socially responsible licensing. Stanford has endorsed the Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology which recommends that we 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.
Our primary way to ensure that developing countries can practice Stanford inventions is to forego the filing of patent applications in developing countries. For health-related technologies which could be useful to the population in developing countries, we can and have waived royalties for sales in developing countries. We believe that each licensing situation requires careful consideration to what licensing provisions should be included so that fundamental research is translated to new products and technologies. Our objective is to optimize the likelihood that new knowledge will be used for the public good, whether locally or globally.
COVID-19 Technology Access Framework
We strongly believe that while intellectual property rights can often serve to incentivize the creation of new products, such rights should not become a barrier to addressing widespread, urgent and essential health-related needs. To address the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are each implementing technology transfer strategies to allow for and incentivize rapid utilization of our available technologies that may be useful for preventing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19 infection during the pandemic. To achieve our common goal, we each individually commit to the following guidelines:
1. We are committed to implementing COVID-19 patenting and licensing strategies that are consistent with our goal of facilitating rapid global access. For most types of technologies, this includes the use of rapidly executable non-exclusive royalty-free licenses to intellectual property rights that we have the right to license, for the purpose of making and distributing products to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19 infection during the pandemic and for a short period thereafter. In return for these royalty-free licenses, we are asking the licensees for a commitment to distribute the resulting products as widely as possible and at a low cost that allows broad accessibility during the term of the license.
2. We are committed to making vigorous efforts to achieve alignment among all stakeholders in our intellectual property, including research sponsors, to facilitate broad and rapid access to technologies that have been requested to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. We are committed to making any technology transfer transactions related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic our first priority, and to minimizing any associated administrative burdens.