UF among world leaders in approved patents


Published: Friday, June 20, 2014 at 4:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 20, 2014 at 4:06 p.m.

The University of Florida had 93 U.S. utility patents approved in 2013 — the second-highest number among Florida research universities and 14th-highest producer worldwide, according to a report by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

The University of South Florida got the most patents approved in the state university system, and 12th worldwide, with 95. The University of Central Florida was third in the state, and 38th overall, with 51 patents. Florida State University, fourth in the state, was 43rd worldwide with 47 patents.

Jane Muir, associate director for the UF Office of Technology and Licensing, said she was not familiar with those rankings and could not say if that was a significant increase over 2012. A report by the Association of University Technology Managers said UF had 60 patents approved in 2012.

While 93 patents is a good number, it isn’t the focus of UF research, Muir said.

“We’re not about how many patents get issued,” she said. “We’re about how many new discoveries are making their way into the marketplace and making a difference in the world.”

Patent approvals represent the culmination of three to five years of research and development, Muir said. So, the number of patents issued each year is related to activities that started several years back.

UF continues to see an increase in research dollars coming in, around $600 million to $700 million a year, she said. The research activity sponsored by that money is generating new disclosures that are getting patented.

The technology is as diverse as the research going on at the university, from the discovery of plant lines to the development of new medical procedures.

“When we find somebody that we can work with that is interested in licensing the technology and moving it forward, we are very proactive in finding licensees interested in this technology,” Muir said.

UF has seen a $91 million return on licensing revenue from 2010-12, according to a report by the Association of University Technology Managers.

Some recent technologies available for licensing include gene therapy that could prevent the progression of multiple sclerosis, a polymer for heat-tolerant fuel cell membranes, an eye drop dispenser, and a gene transfer vector that locates and destroys malignant breast cancer cells.

“A patent is great to have,” Muir said, “but unless it is turned into a product that is making a difference in the world, it’s just a patent.”

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