UT Austin's inventors, 1000 patents strong, celebrate World Intellectual Property Day

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Betsy Merrick | Daily Texan Staff

World Intellectual Property Day, observed annually on April 26, honors the inventors behind the innovative technology used in daily life.

The day highlights the impact of UT’s inventors, which is reflected by the 1,000 patents UT’s inventors have been approved for. 

Pharmacy professor Maria Croyle stressed the importance of the intellectual property application process and said it is one of the primary ways an academic researcher can get their ideas out of the laboratory and to the people who need that technology most. 

Croyle said the patent application process is formidable. However, UT’s Office of Technology Commercialization was invaluable when she started a company delivering critical gene therapies. With the help of this office, UT’s researchers have cumulatively passed the 1,000-patent mark.

“The staff at the OTC are very accessible to faculty,” Croyle said. “They are true experts at seeing the value in what they do in the laboratory, as well as navigating the (intellectual property) process, which can be daunting for faculty at any level.”

David Palmer, the program director for Intellectual Property and Technology Transactions at the office, said while the scientists are experts in their research, they may not necessarily be experts in patents, intellectual property and business. The Office of Technology Commercialization bridges the gap between scientists performing cutting-edge research and companies trying to develop technologies tied to that research.

“We employ experts in patent law … so we can help these companies understand and utilize the research being done here at UT,” Palmer said. “We help to get the word out about this great, innovative technology, so it can be most effectively incorporated from the laboratory into products.”

 

Hope Shimabuku, director of the Texas Regional United States Patent and Trademark Office, said universities play an essential role in contributing to the total intellectual property produced annually. Shimabuku said patent examiners at the organization mine the intellectual property, figuring out which innovations should be protected and commercialized via the intellectual property process.

“Universities like UT are institutions of research and technology, where a lot of technology is being developed and licensed across the world,” Shimabuku said.

Palmer said the continued development of innovative technologies and their incorporation into products enhances UT’s reputation.

“This type of success supports what many of us know, that there is important, cutting-edge research going on here,” Palmer said. “There are many interesting discoveries occurring at UT, and the technology we use in our daily lives benefits from it.”