I’m feeling in the “no” today. Here are some questions and various reasons why not.
Should TLOs have first right to “commercialize”?
No. Commercialization should not be the first activity for research outcomes.
No. The first right should be offered, not grabbed.
No. TLOs generally lack the resources or expertise to commercialize.
No. Universities should not be directly involved in commercialization.
No. TLOs have limited idea of what it means to commercialize.
No. TLOs are where research ideas go to die.
Should universities own research inventions outright?
No. Universities should have only limited ownership interest in inventions.
No. University ownership complicates most transactions.
No. Universities should review before making ownership claims.
No. Doing so fragments ownership in collaborative research.
No. Claiming ownership reduces inventor motivation.
No. Claiming ownership of inventions fragments other intangible assets.
No. Owning inventions creates institutional conflicts of interest.
Should assignment of inventions be compulsory for faculty?
No. Faculty are not hired to invent.
No. Research conditions, not employment, should determine assignment.
No. Faculty are not employees for purposes of scholarship and research.
No. Faculty owe their service to the public, not to the administration.
No. Universities have poor track records with compulsory assignments.
No. Universities obtain low quality inventions.
No. Compulsory methods void critical elements of inventive relationships.
No. Universities are rarely important agents in breakthrough networks.
Do TLOs provide the optimal path for university research inventions?
No. TLOs run portfolio services, and succeed on maybe ten inventions in 1,000.
No. A single TLO cannot possibly handle the range of research at most universities.
No. Sincerity is not substitute for expertise. TLOs need to partner to succeed.
No. A TLO assumes it has to market, but another agent may already have a deal.
No. A TLO forces an invention to be a university asset, adding complexity.
No. TLO operating assumptions prevent them from serving open innovation.
No. TLOs assume the path is always from research to industry.
No. TLOs cannot partner readily with other TLOs, so cannot work at scale.
All this negativity can be positively liberating!