Expert to discuss how to ride the profits and pitfalls of intellectual property rights

Date: 31/03/2009

Given the complexities and costs of research in the 21st century and the potential million dollar windfalls from successful commercialisation, universities need to be vigilant with managing their intellectual property says a visiting expert from Johns Hopkins University in the USA.

Wes Blakeslee, the Executive Director of Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer, is visiting the University of Western Sydney to share his expertise in managing intellectual property (IP) and commercialising discoveries.

Johns Hopkins University receives more than US$1.9 billion in research funding and is the number one ranked research university in the US.

Mr Blakeslee says universities need to be clear with their policies on intellectual property rights and licensing to avoid disputes.

"Universities divide IP income among inventors and often schools and departments. Issues regarding relative share of revenues are much easier to resolve before the money starts to come in," says Mr Blakeslee who is also a lawyer specialising in patents, trademarks and copyright.

Mr Blakeslee says there is often a very long lead time from research through to commercialisation, licensing and finally profits.

"There is a challenge for university administrators, lawyers and academics to devise an agreement which is acceptable to all stakeholders now and into the future," he says.

"Shares must be very clearly defined among the participants, and policy language must be unambiguous.

"The real issues emerge when the big money starts to roll in ten years or more after the initial agreement. Researchers may have moved on and universities restructured so it becomes very difficult to determine where the money should flow," he says.

Mr Blakeslee will meet researchers and senior administrators at UWS at time when the University has exponentially grown its expenditure on research.

The most recent biannual publication from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reflects that UWS spent $74million on research. This represents a 19 per cent increase over a two year period.

Across an eight year period, UWS has grown its expenditure on research by 200 per cent.



Senior Media Officer

Paul Grocott
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