A recent study presented at the Patent Statistics for Decision Makers Conference organized at the United States Patent Office questions the logic behind a nonexclusive license preference often found in U.S. government technology transfer policy.
In “The Role of Exclusive Licensing in Follow-on Research of Academic Patented Inventions” presentation the authors demonstrate that, contrary to the belief by some, exclusive licensing does not impede future research.
The authors ask two questions. First, does exclusive licensing affect licensee follow-on research? Second, does exclusive licensing affect non-licensee follow-on research? The first question addresses the concern that a company will take a license of a university invention and not develop it. The second question addresses the concern that follow-on research will not occur without the license thereby limiting the amount of knowledge available. And the results…
With respect to the first question, the researchers find that exclusive licensee patent citations increase significantly after exclusive licensing. In other words, the company or entity that receives the exclusive license continues to research and invent as evidenced by the numerous patents that follow based on the licensed technology.
With respect to the second question, the authors find that non-licensee citations increase significantly after exclusive licensing. In other words, even the people/companies that have no license to the technology continue to research and invent as evidenced by their numerous patents that follow based on the licensed technology.
Maybe it is time to rethink the rationale behind a government lab preference for non-exclusive licenses.