European IP Helpdesk

Bulletin No. 1 Licensing


Research centres and universities have large treasure chests of unused technologies. Companies also often struggle to out-license their technologies. For a considerable number of companies, the expectations they have of out-licensing are not fulfilled. By far the greatest difficulty is finding the right commercialisation partner.

Potential technology buyers and licensees have difficulties in identifying suitable partners and technologies that they could bring on board. In particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) complain about finding the right partners in universities and elsewhere.


The most traditional approaches are patent brokers, experts and patent pools. They have successfully transferred or licensed patents since the beginning of the 20th century.

Patent Brokers: Patent brokers offer patent sales or licensing support as a service and manually search for potential partners and then approach them through their network of contacts. Patent brokers usually focus on granted patents. From time to time, they also act

for patent buyers helping them to identify interesting patents for acquisition.

Experts & Search Firms: Very often patent brokers rely on outside experts and search firms to look for evidence that a patent is used by one or more companies, making these companies candidates for a licensing campaign.

Patent Pools: Patent pools focus on licensing-out granted patents from multiple companies in one bundle.


Another approach is to use the “Wisdom of the Crowd” to identify application fields and potential partners for a technology. Here, the market is broadly defined by three perspectives: crowd searches, crowd sellers and defensive aggregators.

Crowd Sourcing: On crowd sourcing platforms experts from around the world can be hired to search for evidence that a patent is used by one or more companies.

Crowd Sellers: There are a few platforms on which

technologies can be presented to a crowd of brokers or sales professionals, who can then decide whether they want to search a buyer for a technology. Usually, they charge a sales commission in case of a successful transaction.

Defensive Aggregators: Defensive aggregators purchase patent portfolios to license them to the corporations within their network. They are among the most active buyers of patent portfolios.

Marketplaces & platforms

There are several internet marketplaces for technologies. Roughly speaking, they can be divided into three categories: early stage technology marketplaces, marketplaces for granted patents and automatic matching platforms.

Early Stage Tech: Their focus is on new technologies and know-how transfer. Usually, the technologies have reached the prototype stage and are protected by patent

Technology Transfer: Brokers, Tools & Platforms

Written by Dr Bastian July, GoodIP

applications. Companies turn to these marketplaces to find new technologies that can help them expand their market position.

Granted Patents: These platforms focus on granted patents just like patent brokers. Companies purchase patents to integrate them in their own portfolios or to avoid being attacked with these patents.

Automatic Matching: The tools of the 21st century open up new possibilities for reinventing the market for technology transfers. Technology offers on the one hand and search & interest fields of companies on the other hand can be understood by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Matching algorithms of a recommendation system can be used to suggest suitable technologies to potential buyers and licensees. Instead of storing technology offers only in a database and then calling them up via user filters or relying on the activities of one broker, AI can be used to efficiently match partners for the first time in an automatic and scalable way.