Category Archives: Business and Transactions

Penn State University to license patents via online auction

Penn State University is primed to launch the country’s first online auction of patent rights resulting from university research. According to a Penn State news release:

About 70 engineering patents in areas as diverse as acoustics, fuel cells and sensors will be available for license in this first auction. Required bid minimums on many will be as low as $5,000.

Available patents are listed on the Penn State Intellectual Property Auction Website. Bidders must pre-register to participate in the action. In addition to single patents with minimum bids as low as $5,000, the auction will include several patent bundles with minimum bids ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. The auction will open March 31, 2104 and close on April 11, 2014.

Winning bidders will need to enter into a license agreement with the University’s Office of Technology Management. The agreement will require the winning bidder to also pay all patent maintenance fees. However, unlike typical university research licenses, no ongoing royalties will be due. Penn State also retains the right to pursue third-party infringers; the licensee can only participate in enforcement if Penn State’s enforcement efforts are not successful after a six month period.

Patent auctions have met with limited success over the years. However, Penn State is tempering expectations with low minimum bids and realistic public statements. Penn State’s news release notes that a key goal of the auction is to “raise awareness among interested parties in business and industry that the University does have licenses available whose commercial applications could prove extremely valuable.”

A small license fee is certainly better than no license fee, especially for patents that are just sitting on the shelf.  In addition, by calling attention to its portfolio of IP in fields such as antenna systems, superconductors, and ground water remediation, the auction will certainly help draw attention to the university’s diverse research capabilities.

Innovation, invention, or tasty breakfast treat?

This week Wall Street Journal columnist Dennis Berman posed an interesting innovationquestion:  “Is Peanut Butter Pop-Tart an ‘Innovation’?”  In the article, Berman described the skyrocketing use – and likely overuse — of the word “innovation” by many American companies and asks:  is this really innovation?  When a food company introduces a new product, or a restaurant offers a new burger, is it innovation?  Or are these simply the actions that a company needs to do on a day-to-day basis to stay competitive?

The article prompted me to think about how the word “innovation” can sometimes be confused with “invention.” Roget’s Thesaurus lists the two terms as synonyms of each other, and many dictionaries give the words nearly-identical definitions.  However, there are subtle differences between the two terms. Continue reading

Petzilla vs. the trademark registration: beware the improper assignment trap

Intent-to-use (ITU) trademark applications can give companies the Banzai Godzillaopportunity to reserve valuable trademark rights before actually using the mark in commerce. However, ITU applications do have certain limitations – including restrictions on assignment.

In many cases, U.S. trademark law imposes few conditions on assignment of trademark registrations and applications. However, in the case of ITU applications, Section 10(a)(1) of the Lanham Act states that ITU applications may not be assigned before the applicant files a statement of use, unless the assignment is “to a successor to the business of the applicant, or portion thereof, to which the mark pertains.” This means that ITU applications can be assigned only in those situations that also involve a “successor,” and not merely to any buyer.

A recent Trademark Trial and Appeals Board opinion in Central Garden & Pet Co. v. Doskocil Mfg. Co. illustrates the perils of improperly assigning ITU applications.  Continue reading

Apply to showcase your company at the IMPACT 2013 Mid-Atlantic Venture Summit

Are you an growing company in the Mid-Atlantic region that is seeking outside investment?  If so, IMPACT 2013 may be the perfect opportunity for you.

The IMPACT 2013 Venture Summit is an opportunity for growing technology and health care companies, along with innovative early stage businesses, to pitch their company to prominent investors.  IMPACT 2013, also offers networking opportunities with business community leaders and panel sessions that offer relevance, value and expert knowledge.

IMPACT 2013 will take place October 22 and 23, 2013 in Philadelphia.  We at  Fox Rothschild LLP are proud to be the host sponsor of IMPACT 2013, and we look forward to seeing you there.

Click here to learn more and apply to be a featured company at IMPACT 2013.

3 Rivers Venture Fair is this week

Invite_LogoThere is still time to join more than 600 investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders and service providers at the 2013 3 Rivers Venture Fair.  This year’s fair will take place  on Wednesday April 10 and Thursday April 11 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA.

Since its debut in 2002, the 3 Rivers Venture Fair has become a recognized proving ground for promising technology pioneers, helping featured innovators raise more than $400 million in capital.

This year’s program will feature 40 presenting companies in diverse industry categories, including life sciences, energy, communications, software, manufacturing, media and more.

For more details, visit the 3RVF website  To register, click here.

Federal Trade Commission issues new “.com Disclosures” guidance for online advertising

On March 13, 2013,  the FTC updated its “.com Disclosures” guidance document for online disclosures to address new issues resulting from the expanding use of smartphones and other mobile devices for advertising purposes.

Originally published in 2000, the FTC guide addresses how companies who are engaged in online advertising should provide the various disclosures that are required by the laws that the FTC enforces. These disclosures include those required to prevent a claim that a particular advertisement is misleading or deceptive.   Examples include: Continue reading

New house and senate bills, and White House memo, call for open public access to publications and data resulting from federally funded research

If a new White House memo directing government agencies to ensure that publications and data resulting from federally funded research seems familiar, that’s because it nearly matches a new bill that was introduced in the House and Senate just a week earlier.

On February 22, 2013, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memo directing U.S. government agencies who annually fund over $100 million in research to implement a plan for requiring public access to data and publications resulting from that research.

The memo requires that each plan included elements for: Continue reading

3 Rivers Venture Fair accepting nominations for presenting companies at April 2013 event

This year’s 3 Rivers Venture Fair is scheduled for April 10-11, 2013 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA.  The 3RVF connects investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders and service providers who are interested in discovering innovation breakthroughs, ground-floor investment opportunities and trends in industries ranging from life sciences, to energy, to manufacturing, to electronics and software, and more.

The 3RVF is still accepting nominations for presenting companies, but the available slots are filling fast.  Companies seeking venture investment should click here to apply to be considered for a presentation as a featured company.  Or, if you know a rising company who may benefit from the exposure and potential investment, nominate that company via the attached link.

When the slots are filled, nominations will be closed, so apply now to be considered.  See you at the 3RVF!

Do contractors help develop your software? Read this if you plan to sell or license it to others.

A recent decision from the United States District Court for the District of California could, if upheld, significantly limit companies’ ability to transfer its proprietary software unless the company has obtained an assignment from each and every developer.

In a decision published November 5, 2012 in Amaretto Ranch Breedables LLC v. Ozimals Inc., Ozimals argued that Amaretto Ranch infringed its copyright in software used in connection with the online virtual reality site Second Life. Amaretto Ranch filed a declaratory judgment action and argued that it could not infringe because Ozimals did not own the software. Three developers created the software, but only two of them had executed assignments in favor of Ozimals.

The court agreed with Amaretto Ranch’s argument and held that in order to transfer a copyright, all authors must agree to the assignment.  Otherwise, the attempted assignment is merely a non-exclusive license. Continue reading

Getting to “Yes” in University IP Licensing

Are you thinking about licensing technology from a university or research institution?  Are you a research institution licensing professional looking for tips about negotiating with both start-ups and established companies?

If so, you’ll want to sign up for a “Getting to ‘Yes’ in University IP Licensing,” a live webinar sponsored by Technology Transfer Tactics magazine on October 25, 2012.  During the session, my colleague Brienne Terril and I will cover topics such as:

  • Anatomy of a license agreement
  • Common sticking points, and strategies for overcoming them quickly
  • How to balance competing interests of the researcher, institution, and the corporate licensee

We will illustrate several of the topics with a mock negotiation session, to help attendees see various negotiation tactics in the tech transfer context.

More information about the webinar is linked here at the Technology Transfer Tactics website.