A literature review of intellectual property management in technology transfer offices: From appropriation to utilization

This paper presents a systematic literature review of the intersection between intellectual property (IP) management and technology transfer offices (TTOs) in the context of universities in order to understand how TTOs manage IP. IP management is an important issue, as it both enables and restricts the utilization of research results and impacts the competitiveness of technology-based businesses. The literature review shows that previous studies of IP management in TTOs tend to adopt a simplistic view of IP management, recommending that all valuable inventions should be patented. Moreover, academic research into TTOs and actual TTO practices both appear to focus on improving efficiency and outputs measured in terms of numbers of patents, licenses and spin-offs. We call this established view the appropriation mode of TTOs and question it based on the logics of publicly funded research and modern IP management. In its place, we suggest the utilization mode of TTOs, in which TTOs manage IP from publicly funded research in order to govern innovation processes and enable utilization of research results in a broader sense. Several recommendations are provided for both researchers and practitioners.

Published in Technology in Society, Vol. 59, pp. 1-10.