2011 Outstanding Technology Transfer Professional Mid-Atlantic
The Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) Office at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is charged with managing GSFC’s patent portfolio and identifying innovative new business practices. ICAP Ocean Tomo is the global leader in intellectual property brokerage and a division of ICAP, the world’s premier interdealer broker and provider of post-trade services. In 2008, a team comprised of representatives from the GSFC IPP Office and Ocean Tomo established a groundbreaking partnership to commercialize NASA patented technologies through a live public auction format.
Until GSFC’s successful participation in Ocean Tomo’s auction on October 30, 2008, no federal laboratory had ever participated in the live public auction transaction format to license its intellectual property (IP). By executing an exclusive license with Ocean Tomo Federal Services prior to the auction, and then allowing Ocean Tomo to auction the opportunity for a winning bidder to assume the license with NASA from Ocean Tomo, GSFC was able to comply with federal regulations and still operate within the live auction format. The licensing opportunity that NASA sold at the October 30, 2008, auction was a portfolio of eight patents involving a novel algorithm originally developed for modeling ocean waves, called the Hilbert-Huang Transform (HHT).
Licensing government-owned patents through a live auction process is a novel approach that has not been attempted previously, making Goddard’s arrangement with Ocean Tomo unique and innovative. The partnership with Ocean Tomo allows NASA to expand its channels for licensing NASA’s patented technologies, leveraging Ocean Tomo’s network, expertise, and tools such as the live IP auction. The GSFC/Ocean Tomo team’s clear dedication to creative and strategic thinking surrounding technology transfer has led to partnering opportunities that expand the use of NASA technologies in the public sector and created a new paradigm for licensing government-owned IP.