The technology transfer process typically begins after an inventor submits an Invention Disclosure Form to the Office of Technology Management. Each new invention disclosure is assigned to an OTM licensing professional - assigned based on the departmental affiliation of the disclosing faculty member - who is responsible for moving the invention through the technology management life cycle. Following is a description of the OTM process.
In the first stage of the process, the licensing associate meets with the inventor(s), to discuss the invention in more detail and in order to understand what the inventor wants to do with the invention. The licensing professional also checks rights and ownership in the invention. If it is determined that the University of Massachusetts Medical School does own the technology, the invention is then assessed for technical and commercial merit and intellectual property protection.
The licensing professional will then proceed to evaluate the invention in each of these important areas, with the commercial merit of the invention heavily impacting the decision to move forward. The decision to move forward is made by the a committee of senior OTM and University management in consultation with the licensing professional. Typically, those ideas with the most commercial potential will be pursued. In addition, demonstrated technical merit and the ability to obtain intellectual property protection are also required to pursue an invention.
The licensing professional will notify the inventor(s) if it is decided that commercialization of an invention will not be pursued. If it is decided that an invention has high potential for commercialization and it has been determined that there are no technical or legal issues impeding commercialization, the OTM will pursue the commercialization of an invention.
After deciding to pursue commercialization, the licensing professional in collaboration with other OTM staff will make strategic decisions regarding patenting and other relevant legal protection as appropriate. Although patenting every unique idea is appealing from an academic perspective, it is not necessarily the best use of limited University resources. Consequently, OTM will not seek a patent application on all of the invention disclosures received.
With their significant expertise in their chosen fields, many inventors will be able to offer insight on the potential of their invention and markets where their invention might be in demand. Consequently, the licensing professional and inventor will work together to further identify and understand potential markets. The licensing professional is then responsible for researching and contacting possible licensees.
After identifying interested potential licensees, the licensing professional will begin to negotiate license terms that provide fair return for the inventor and the university, while protecting the rights and ownership for all involved.
Licenses can vary greatly in nature, as can the consideration received for a license. An exclusive license generally costs more than a non-exclusive. A license can be limited in scope or very broad in terms of the field of use. A license term can be just a few years, or can be in effect for the life of the patents. In all cases, the university retains the right to continue to conduct research in the field of the technology which is the subject of the license.
After an invention is licensed, the licensing professional will work to maintain intellectual property protection and ensure that licensee relations are kept current. This includes the collection and distribution of royalty payments. More information on the specific distribution of royalty payments at the University of Massachusetts Medical School can be found in the campus' Intellectual Property Policy.
Faculty and students are encouraged to contact the Office of Technology Management with any questions.