The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 597–616 | Cite as

The commercialization of academic patents: black boxes, pipelines, and Rubik’s cubes



Drawing on histories of technological innovation originating from research by faculty at The Pennsylvania State University and Johns Hopkins University, this paper presents evidence for a “technology” as well as an “intellectual property rights” research approach to the commercialization of academic patents. By describing how inventor and firm activities and strategies affect the technical development and commercial positioning of university patents, a technology focus adds depth to the general proposition that university patents are embryonic technologies. It likewise serves as an analytical probe to reconsider other mainstream propositions about university technology transfer.


Commercialization Academic research Technology transfer Patents and licenses 

JEL Classification

O31 O33 O34 



Research on this paper was supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. We have benefited from earlier discussions with Janet Bercovitz and Richard Burton.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Association for the Advancement of ScienceWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of North Carolina-Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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