ORPC Helps Inventors Protect Their Rights
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
January 24, 2007
© Kristi Donahue, EOS, Don Troop with mini ozone sensor
In 1980, when the Bayh-Dole Act was passed, UNH joined other universities
around the country in gaining title to intellectual property rights for research
outcomes funded with federal money.
The law said universities, and other qualifying groups, could keep those rights
but they had a responsibility to commercialize them for the public good and
make sure they didn’t “sit on the shelf.”
The Office for Research Partnerships and Commercialization does just that.
How? By helping faculty and staff members turn their ideas and creations--their
intellectual property--into marketable products through such measures as patents,
which protect things; copyrights, which protect the expression of ideas, and
“UNH faculty, staff and students all have intellectual property rights.
Our job is to help identify relative work and to help protect and persevere
those rights,” says ORPC licensing manager Maria Emanuel.
Several UNH inventors have developed technologies that are available for licensing,
including Project 54, the “smart” police car technology that allows
officers to, among other things, turn on their lights, sirens, radars, video
cameras and radios with voice commands. Other innovations include a method
for identifying fast-growing fish and an apparatus and method for delivering
radiation treatment more precisely to tumors, thus minimizing damage to surrounding
“There is a lot of research and development going on here. Someone might
come up with the technology but not know how to take it to the next step; how
to move their idea forward without losing their rights to it,” says Emanuel. “A
company might say, ‘thanks for telling us about this but we’re
not interested’ and then take the idea and run with it.”
Emanuel hopes that increased awareness of intellectual property rights will
prevent that from happening. ORPC’s role is to help inventors assess
whether their ideas are both patentable and marketable and if so, determine
which is the best licensing partner: an existing company interested in adding
the new technology to its product line, or perhaps a spin-out company started
by the UNH inventor.
Emanuel cites Troop Instrumentation LLC as an example.
In his work as a research project engineer in the Climate Change Research
Center, Donald Troop came up with a mini ozone sensor, used to gather air quality
data. He has since launched Troop Instrumentation to manufacture and distribute
air pollution and climate monitoring and controlling devices. He has licensed
the technology for the Mini-O3 Sensor and expects to license more devices he’s
developing at UNH.
When UNH licenses a technology, it charges royalty fees, and distributes 30
percent to the inventor, 30 percent to the college or department and 30 percent
to the Vice President for Research office, bringing money into the research
programs. Ten percent of the royalty fee is paid to ORPC, and a portion of
that goes toward such costs as patent expenses, which Emanuel says run in the
``tens of thousands.” The average cost of a patent is $15,000.
“It can be a little daunting for the inventor,” Emanuel says,
adding UNH pays the upfront costs but looks to be reimbursed in the licensing
process. “We want them to know what we can provide. A busy researcher
might not take the time to understand what they have to lose—or gain.”
In November, revisions to the 1990 intellectual property policy were ratified,
including such critical topics as student rights relating to IP and the commercialization
of university-owned IP. The policy is posted at www.orpc.unh.edu/uipp.html.
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