National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Integrated NASA wide patent management and licensing

Presently each of approximately 10 different NASA centers manages their own patent portfolio and licensing function. While NASA HQ oversees part of these functions, NASA HQ could also consolidate invention disclosures, patent filings, patent maintenance, and foreign activities. NASA HQ could also at the same time manage commercialization activities aligned with their new space vision, to extract maximum licensing and partnership revenue from what is arguably one of the most valuable patent portfolios in the world (not just government or private sectors). Moreover, as shown in the wireless telecom area recently, even one small sector of the economy can value such patents (and related IP) in the billions of dollars. That's right, BILLIONS of dollars! Right now, NASA is struggling to extract even a few million dollars from their IP, and it is trending downwards due to government inertia and restricted hiring and compensation. Nonetheless, each NASA center still runs its own patent counsel and licensing group (more or less). So instead of rolling up these activities and sponsoring strategic activities across the agency, HQ is left with less than desirable control and management -- not just from a legal perspective based on agency lawyers, but also from technical, business, and marketing perspectives which are diffused into the centers and not well coordinated centrally at HQ (or even across centers by each other).

Accordingly, my suggestion is not so much to save money, but to save value -- and by saving value it means maximizing Federal government IP value and looking at new and innovative ways to manage patent strategy and licensing activities. Even just a few million, or even a billion dollars over the next five to ten years would be "low hanging fruit" based on existing patents already in NASA's portfolio.

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Idea No. 14529