Penn State's new auction gets few bids

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 6, 2014 4:00 AM

(State College) -- A new kind of auction at Penn State has ended with only two patents being sold, but one of the men behind the plan isn't calling it a failure yet.

Pennsylvania State University old main

Just a pair of engineering patents of the 71 offered earned bids in the auction run by Penn State's Technology Transfer Office.

It's believed to be the first time a US university has actually run an intellectual property auction on its own.

Don Mothersbaugh and Ron Huss set a goal of bids on at least 15 percent of the patents, but even before the auction finished, experts were skeptical.

"Just that one set of two patents have been licensed. However, what's interesting to us is that subsequent to the auction, three separate companies have contacted us and expressed interest," says Huss, an Associate Vice President for Tech Transfer. He says they could still get to goal, even with bidding wrapping up.

Huss says he hopes to have a better idea on where negotiations stand with those companies in about a month.

"I don't think the results can be attributed to a lack of publicity about the auction. I'm wondering if some companies were just not comfortable with the concept of the auction."

He also says Penn State is considering what to do with the patents that didn't sell, as government fees to keep them current can run into the thousands of dollars.

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