Penn State plans to auction off patents

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Want to own the patent for the solid-phase P buffering fertilizer delivery method developed at Penn State? Opening bid is $15,000.

How about a lubricated rotor duct assembly for an underwater vehicle? That action starts at just $5,000.


Penn State plans to auction off 112 of its unused patents, spanning a range of disciplines from chemistry to engineering to bio-tech.

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“We are kind of at the end of the rope,” said Ron Huss, associate vice president for research and technology transfer. “We can’t think of another way to market them, and so, we thought, let’s try an auction.”

All of the innovations at one time or another showed promise, but, for a variety of reasons, never found commercial success. Regardless of profit, the school is assessed maintenance fees by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, payable at defined intervals over the life of the patent.

“So we felt that this group of patents, it made sense at this time to try to find a home for them through this auctioning process as opposed to continue paying those maintenance fees,” Huss said.

The school holds approximately 580 active patents;  Huss estimates 40 percent of them have been commercially licensed.

Penn State attempted to sell off a different batch of patents earlier this year, though only two bids were received.

The online auction will run from Dec. 8 to 12. A preview of the patents is available here. 

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