Let’s follow up on the fact that there’s no publicly available–free–data source to track university to industry technology transfer. There’s no non-free data source to track such transfer, either. You would think there would be.
To get at metrics, let’s distinguish three separate issues: management metrics, public metrics, and federal policy metrics.
First, there’s the metrics one uses to manage a university technology licensing operation. For that, one starts with the approach one is going to take. Open innovation follows different parameters than does relying on patent monopolies, and patent monopolies (with default exclusive licensing) behaves differently from pushing out startups for economic development. And for all that, focusing on patentable inventions is an altered dynamic from focusing on copyrights, data, and materials, and focusing on research services differs from focusing on proprietary positions. Add to that running a compulsory participation program–the university owns everything, even what it does not know it owns and even what it is wrong for it to claim–differs from running a voluntary program–present to us stuff you think it would be helpful for us to support and we will consider it.
In short, if you don’t know what you are doing, cannot decide among these approaches, then it makes perfect sense to report a set of abstractions like inventions reported (inventions and non-inventions), patent applications filed (of all sorts, count provisionals and then count full utility filings, and then count each divisional, continuation, continuation-in-part, reissue, PCT, and national phase filings as an application), patents issued (in any country), total licenses (anything over $1,000 a pop, say), and income (regardless of basis–patenting reimbursements, realized equity, license issue fees, license maintenance fees, license milestone fees, settlements, judgments, and the like). But these metrics are useless for management. They are more like bragging metrics, or metrics for people who don’t know what to look for, or metrics to make a case that a licensing office needs more funding (“look at all that potential!”). Continue reading