At TI:GER, law students are paired with innovators to bring products to market, and our course curriculum covers a wide variety of topics related to technology commercialization. Wondering what role lawyers play in the commercialization of new technology? In this post, we’ll discuss several ways in which lawyers help bring new tech to the marketplace.
The Role Lawyers Have In Technology Commercialization
New technology and intellectual property (IP) can be very valuable. But simply inventing something does not give you exclusive rights to sell or commercialize it. Until you seek the appropriate protections – such as a patent – it’s entirely possible for another entity or individual to commercialize and sell the exact same technology.
The primary role of lawyers in technology commercialization is to seek adequate protections for valuable new technology – ensuring it cannot be stolen or imitated by competitors, and that the full economic benefits of the new technology can be realized.
How Do Lawyers Help Protect And Manage New Technology?
There are many different ways that lawyers can help inventors and scientists manage and protect new technology. Let’s explore some of them below.
Intellectual property protection (patents)
Patent protection is usually the first thing sought by a lawyer who is working on commercializing new technology. A patent is a legal, limited duration property right that protects technology and products created by an inventor, and it’s filed with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO).
By filing a patent, the individual or entity seeking the patent can protect their intellectual property. Then, if another entity violates a patent, they can seek relief in the form of a lawsuit and other legal actions.
Most of the time, inventors of products don’t build products themselves for commercial use. Generally, they identify a commercial partner who can build the product and sell it, and they “license” the technology to this partner under the terms of a licensing agreement, which is developed by a lawyer.
These licenses usually include a minimum annual payment, as well as many other revenue and fee structures depending on the specifics of the technology and its commercial viability.
Lawyers also can assist in assessing, distributing, and collecting licensing revenue from commercial partners. In some cases, this can be a difficult process, so retaining a lawyer ensures that all involved parties are acting in accordance with their licensing agreements.
An Example Of A Lawyer’s Role In Technology Commercialization
Let’s say that a scientist invents a new type of solar panel. Once the product has been deemed commercially viable, they would work with a lawyer to file a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, protecting the intellectual property of the invention.
Then, they may contact commercial firms about their interest in the technology. When one or more partners are found, a lawyer would draw up a licensing agreement – for example, the scientist may get 10% of the proceeds of each product sold. Once manufacturing begins, the lawyer will then work with the scientist to ensure that the partner firms are abiding by the terms of their licensing agreement.
In addition to this, the lawyer may take legal action against other companies or inventors who are violating the intellectual property of the inventor in the future, further protecting this newly-commercialized technology.
Learn More About TI:GER And Our Commitment To Technological Innovation!
At TI:GER, we recognize the importance of both new research and the role that lawyers play in protecting newly-commercialized technology. To learn more about our program, visit this page, or feel free to contact us online with your questions or comments.