The Texas A&M University System now allows researchers and entrepreneurs to use its intellectual property for free on the grounds that it is for COVID-19 related medical solutions.
A&M announced the offer on June 11, stating that all requests for intellectual property related to COVID-19 can be licensed for free for up to three years or the end of the pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organization — whichever date comes first. A&M joined 80 other institutions in allowing the use of royalty-free intellectual property licenses during the pandemic, according to the press release.
Executive Director of Technology Commercialization Damon Matteo, who led the A&M System effort, said the non-exclusive licenses will give anyone looking to field a COVID-19 solution the opportunity to use the A&M System’s patent rights fee-free.
“In the spirit of helping everybody rise to the challenge of the COVID pandemic, for a limited time we’re waiving the cost of these licenses effectively to remove any barrier that there might possibly be,” Matteo said.
Matteo said this will encourage small start-ups and larger operating companies alike to license intellectual property in the fight against COVID-19. Those granted the licenses will also have the option to put together a commercial license in the long-term. However, he said commercial licensing will not be required for entrepreneurs just looking to do something temporarily for the pandemic response.
“We want to make sure people have a glide path,” Matteo said. “They can feel comfortable making investments up front with time, energy and money, knowing at the end of the three years — if they want it — there is a license to be had for commercial purposes down stream that they can negotiate in the front end. It can remove that uncertainty.”
Chancellor John Sharp said in the June 11 press release that A&M wanted to focus research and technology on the pandemic response.
“We want our research to be applied to the world’s most pressing problems,” Sharp said. “There is nothing more pressing than this pandemic. We will help save the world in any way — and every way — that we can.”
Matteo said after he announced the idea to their 11-member A&M System team, the public good argument was obvious enough that all members agreed to it unanimously.
“It’s just another way that A&M is showing that we stand behind our values,” Matteo said. “That was an amplifier for me. It made it feel much better getting this done.”
Matteo said the A&M System team will go through a vetting process to identify an applicant’s interests for a particular solution, and how that could be achieved using one of the A&M System member’s intellectual property licenses.