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ERIC Number: EJ848940
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul-10
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Years after Inventors Die, Royalties Are Pennies from Heaven
Blumenstyk, Goldie
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n41 pA1 Jul 2009
Sarah L. Kieweg had her own nice surprise when the University of Central Florida contacted her. She understood quite a bit about her father's pioneering work on artificial intelligence in the 1990s. Still, in 2006, eight years after he died of a heart attack, at age 50, the call from the university came out of the blue: some of James R. Driscoll's patents had, at long last, been licensed, and a royalty check was coming her way. It is the nature of the academic technology-transfer business that many inventions born in university researchers' laboratories can take years to become products. By design, the work is more fundamental than applied. As frustrating as that pace can be to college finance officers and venture-capital investors, it is not the only consequence. The commercial success of an academic invention that comes years after its inventor's death can mean a lucrative, if bittersweet, legacy for the heirs. It can also present a logistical and sometimes emotional challenge for the college employees responsible for finding them. Patent royalties can also lead to some hard feelings. One director of licensing recalls an inventor who held off even disclosing his invention to the institution until after his divorce was final, to make certain that his soon-to-be ex-wife would not have a claim on any future revenues from it. As technology transfer matures, "universities really ought to think about how they're going to find and track down the heirs," this official says. "If you do it right, everybody's happy," he says. "But if it's not done right, it can be really bad."
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A