Turning Intellectual Property 

Into Money-Making Ideas 

Intellectual property is like milk: the longer it sits on a shelf, the more it loses its value and no one wants it. Consider that the vast majority of intellectual properties never reach production and sit around collecting dust.

 It can be hard for a manufacturer to step into the customer’s shoes, and involvement in technical and logistical details may blur the most important factor in running a business – customer satisfaction

For the record only 5-10 percent of all intellectual properties ever become commercial products. The problem is it’s a long process to walk a good idea through the entire development to reach commercialization. Mark DeWyngaert, senior manager of Ernst Young of Stamford, works with companies and universities to help get their intellectual properties into production. He points out that protecting ideas with patents typically cost big bucks. And when good ideas sit around collecting dust, it still costs companies money – often a lot.

“There are a lot of intellectual properties sitting around,” DeWyngaert said. “Patents expire and when that happens, someone else comes up with an idea. There are important steps to take to insure the tech transfer process takes place properly.”

DeWyngaert moderated a recent Connecticut Venture Group Technology Commercialization Forum that lead investors, entrepreneurs and researchers through the technology transfer process from intellectual property to commercial production. DeWyngaert notes that the process is complicated and fraught with pitfalls for researchers and inventors who need to consider three critical steps

Have detailed notes and a database to prove ownership of an idea.

Determine if a product has commercial uses. Many intellectual properties have alternative uses. For example, a new pump intended for a kidney dialysis machine might have value as a soda fountain pump.

Determine if a product has commercial uses. Many intellectual properties have alternative uses. For example, a new pump intended for a kidney dialysis machine might have value as a soda fountain pump.

In this complicated patent process, DeWyngaert sees a temporary solution for researchers and inventors to protect their ideas by filing a provisional patent. In essence, it protects intellectual property for a year at a fraction of the cost of a full-blown patent. After the year deadline, the filer must apply for the official patent which can cost between $10,000-$20,000.

However, by that time, the owner might find financial backing

Matthew Smith, director of the Entrepreneurial Institute at Quinnipiac University, notes that universities have traditionally created a fertile ground for companies to develop commercial products. He sees the Technology Commercialization Forum, helping university researchers and companies create potential investment opportunities.

“University technology transfer offers substantial benefit for companies seeking a greater competitive advantage,” Smith said.  “We’re creating a unique forum that brings researchers and investors together to potentially take intellectual property to the next step of becoming commercial products. There’s a great deal of research at the universities in the state and this forum will introduce some of them to investors.”

DeWyngaert also recommends that companies and universities are missing the boat if they allow patented intellectual properties to die on the vine. For that reason, it’s critical for firms to “triage” their intellectual portfolios periodically for possible revenue generating opportunities

He points out that IBM sets the pace in generating additional revenues from its intellectual properties. For the record, IBM produces $2 billion a year, renting and selling its intellectual properties. As an example, a computer chip can be used for several products. Intellectual properties can produce moneymaking opportunities; it’s knowing how to do it before they sour like milk and lose their value.

“Examining portfolios on a regular basis, prevents clutter,” DeWyngaert said. “It’s better to kill, donate or sell intellectual property and allow someone else to make money and pay you, too. You can’t pay for the development of everything you do so you look for joint ventures. The Technology Commercialization Forum is one good place to begin the search.”