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Once a patent is completed and successfully added to UCLA’s portfolio,
OIPA pursues licensing — and more inventively and aggressively than ever
before. A detailed database helps sort out potential customers, who are contacted
individually. A Web site newsletter, “What’s Bruin in the Labs?,
” describes inventions and inventors to an online audience ranging from
business-development officers at Fortune 500 companies to venture capitalists
and investment bankers.
OIPA staff also maintain ongoing relationships with hundreds of companies and
contacts in business and industry. This past summer, OIPA introduced members
of the investment community to researchers in fields ranging from nanotechnology
to molecular genetics at the First Annual Review of Research.
Still, in spite of all the efforts, “chances are that
nobody will notice some of these early inventions for awhile,” Neighbour
says. This is simply the nature of university research, he explains, which tends
to explore new ideas in their earliest stages of gestation. “Often, nobody
quite knows what these ideas are good for,” he says. “It’s
going to be several years before anybody wants to take that technology and do
something with it.”
Parhami could face an especially long uphill climb because this delay is particularly
true in medical therapeutics, where millions of dollars can be spent on research
over a period of as long as 15 years to win FDA approval for a new drug or device.
Nevertheless, there are signs that OIPA’s efforts are paying off: The
office has seen a significant increase in the number of faculty members reporting
new inventions. From an average of 130 inventions per year for the five years
preceding OIPA’s reorganization, new-invention disclosures rose to 170
last year and are expected to continue to increase. Also last year, 57 new U.S.
patents were filed, 43 new U.S. patents were issued and the number of new licenses
executed, 25, was double that of the previous year. In one recent agreement
alone, Samsung Electronics licensed nine patents in multimedia communications,
patents developed in the Image Communications Laboratory of Engineering Professor