Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is UTLP?
The University Technology Licensing Program is a joint effort of 15 of the country’s leading research universities: Brown, Caltech, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, the University of Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn, Princeton, SUNY Binghamton, UC Berkeley, UCLA, the University of Southern California, and Yale. These universities have come together to license certain patents they own across a variety of areas. Other institutions may join UTLP in the future.
2. Why are these institutions licensing patents jointly?
The 15 participating universities in UTLP collectively spend more than $12 billion on research activities per year, with results that stand to benefit innovators across a wide variety of industries. Many of the innovations emerging from this research end up being licensed to industry or else form the basis for new startups. This joint licensing program offers innovators more convenient and efficient access to a subset of the universities’ inventions, enabling new and valuable products to be brought to market. By centralizing licensing, UTLP brings attention to the many valuable inventions owned by the universities and allows for widespread dissemination of their patented technology, encouraging innovation, and improvements.
3. Who needs licenses to the patents UTLP offers?
Any person or organization that currently makes commercial use, or anticipates future commercial use, of the patented technology should obtain a license from UTLP.
4. How are license offerings structured?
UTLP offers a variety of differing licensing options, including options to license an entire patent portfolio (e.g., autonomous vehicle patents); a portfolio divided into technology buckets (e.g., millimeter-wave hardware, optical hardware, inertial sensors, etc.); and individual patents within each bucket. Licensees may choose entire portfolios, a number of buckets, or a number of patents. Pricing for the licenses will be standardized, with licensees paying less by volume if they select a larger portfolio.
5. How were fees/royalty rates determined?
Royalty rates are based on assessment of the value of the pool(s), market feedback, and similar comparable licenses. Startup companies will be offered licenses at substantially discounted rates. The universities want to encourage the use of their inventions to promote further innovation.
6. May licensees grant sublicenses to subsidiaries?
Yes, licensees may grant sublicenses to subsidiaries, but further sublicensing is prohibited.
7. What sorts of products are covered by the patents UTLP licenses?
UTLP is starting with licensing efforts in the areas of connectivity, autonomous vehicles, and data applications. In the future, UTLP expects that it may license university patents in semiconductor fabrication, applied electronics, batteries, photovoltaics, robotics, and other areas.
8. How were the licensed patents chosen?
The universities, assisted by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and technical experts, identified patents in the above-described areas of interest based on their relevance and value to potential licensees.
9. Why are other patents not included in this pool?
Other patents may be added to the licensing program in the future. In particular, it is expected that patents in semiconductor fabrication, applied electronics, batteries, photovoltaics, robotics, and other areas may be added in the future. Patents in fields where existing licensing systems already serve the market well will generally continue to be licensed in accordance with current university procedures.
10. Must licensees obtain their licenses through UTLP, or may licensees negotiate independently with university license holders?
Patents offered for licensing via the University Technology Licensing Program must be licensed through UTLP.
11. What is the view of the U.S. Department of Justice regarding UTLP?
In their planning, UTLP and the universities solicited, and are pleased to have received, a favorable business review letter from the U.S. Department of Justice indicating that the Department has reviewed the UTLP licensing program and does not intend to take any adverse action against the program. This letter may be viewed in its entirety here (pdf): https://www.justice.gov/atr/page/file/1352961/download.
12. Who may I contact for more information?