Report on KTI Symposium: Licensing Intellectual Property - Strategies & Pitfalls

Over 150 people attended Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s Licensing Intellectual Property symposium on 13 November 2015 at the Killashee House Hotel, Naas. Delegates included members of industry, entrepreneurs, representatives from the higher education institutions, and technology transfer professionals working in a variety of functions including contracting, business development and relationship building.

“It’s terrific to see what we’ve done in Ireland and how far we’ve come in such a short time,” said Alison Campbell, director of Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI). “We’ve been seriously investing in research in Ireland for only the last 15 years, and in the capacity and capability in our technology transfer offices for only nine years. The volume of licences that the technology transfer offices execute is growing year-on-year, ensuring we are getting new IP and technology into the hands of companies to help them innovate.”

In a wide-ranging panel discussion on what industry wants from a licence deal, panellists suggested that understanding the context of the relationship between the parties will determine the deal that is struck. Whilst companies would like to see more consistency in licences, it was recognised that different technologies and different sectors need different licence terms. They also suggested that speed was important – a company’s interests may change during the course of a long negotiation.

In a presentation entitled Platform Technology: How to maximise the commercial deal flow, Dr. Diarmuid O’Brien, Director, Trinity Research and Innovation, shared insights from a strategic licensing case study. He illustrated how intellectual property arising from a research collaboration fully funded by industry could be licensed to multiple companies in different fields. He showed that maintaining a good working relationship with the collaborating company made this possible and led to further projects funded by that company.

Mark Anderson, Managing Partner, Anderson Law LLP, addressed common pitfalls in licensing. With in-depth experience of drafting and negotiating IP contracts in the higher education sector, he presented on some of the things that can go wrong in licensing. Drawing on his experiences, he explained what might be done to reduce the associated risks.

On the subject of free licences, Dr. Kevin Cullen, CEO, UNSW Innovations explained how and why the Easy Access IP (EAIP) model had been created and implemented, including its success. He challenged the audience to think about tech transfer’s purpose. It’s the means to support the university’s mission to create (through research) and disseminate (through publication, teaching and tech transfer) knowledge. Ultimately, it’s research users (companies), not universities, that create impact. This makes them vital partners in delivering this impact into the economy. Impact can include sales of products and services, business growth, jobs, etc. In turn, this impact can stimulate research funding – by companies and governments. The current model of technology transfer is inefficient and expensive. It’s not happening at the rate it should be. Many governments worry about the relatively low investment in R&D and innovation by companies. Easy Access IP is presented as a pathway to increase interest in R&D.

Download the full event report (PDF).