Many TTOs struggle to effectively monitor their many licensees for compliance with license terms, progress toward milestones, and adherence to royalty payment terms. Data is increasingly being sought to use for economic development metrics as well, notes Becky Stoughton, MBA, CLP, director of the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) at the University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas) in Richardson. It’s a big task, and some offices have made it much easier by developing reporting templates — including Stoughton’s.
Licensee reporting is a task that “really lends itself to a template,” Stoughton says. The UT-Dallas OTC asks licensees to complete both a quarterly license report and an annual commercialization report. “We developed the templates because we had a lower compliance rate than we would have liked for licensee reporting,” says Stoughton. “As we tried to understand why that was the case, we learned that there is a perception on the part of some licensees, particularly smaller licensees and start-up companies, that the reporting obligation is more onerous than it really is. So the original impetus for developing the forms was to make it as simple to comply as possible. We wanted to enhance compliance with the reporting obligations under the license by sending the message, ‘We need this information, but look, it’s not that hard.’”
Reporting templates are a valuable resource to track your licensees’ progress in developing a technology, says Nina Potter, manager for Compliance and Intellectual Property in the Industrial Partnerships Office at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). “We don’t want anyone licensing a technology and then shelving that technology. These forms enable us to keep in touch with all of our licensees and know where they stand related to the due diligence or performance obligations written into each license agreement. For example, they might need to have a working prototype or a completed product ready for sale within a certain amount of time. Our reports enable us to stay on top of that.”
Reporting templates also allow TTOs to obtain some uniformity of data, says Stoughton. “Lacking any sort of format structure, we were seeing a very wide variety of report formats. With licensees using our own reporting tool, it is nice to have the data returned in a way that we are familiar with. This allows us to easily make comparisons, both linearly over time with a given company and from company to company at a snapshot point in time. In addition, we can identify gaps in reporting more easily than with an ad-hoc, free-form reporting format.”
Having reporting templates also makes TTO operations more efficient, points out Stoughton. “When we initially execute a license agreement, it’s very simple for us to provide the form rather than answer a lot of ad-hoc questions about what’s required. In addition, an indirect benefit is enhanced communication and congeniality between our office and the licensee.” A detailed article on reporting templates – including links to seven templates used by LLNL, UT-Dallas, and several other TTOs — appears in the May issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscriber and access the full article — and hundreds more practical strategies in our six-year archive – CLICK HERE.