The Department of Energy has announced a new initiative, "America's Top Energy Innovator". The gist is an applicant can get a "price break" and less "red tape" in licensing patents from the federal government which are not currently licensed, focusing on start-ups. The program begins May 2, 2011 and apparently will have a cut-off date of December 15, 2011 See: http://energy.gov/news/10202.htm

In particular, the goal seems to be to make it easier for start-up companies to license.

Critical issues over the value and costs of exclusive versus non-exclusive licensing were not noted.

Additional details are below:

Specifically, as part of "America's Next Top Energy Innovator:"

  1. On Monday, May 2, 2011, the Department will kick off the challenge by posting a streamlined template option agreement online for entrepreneurs to submit to Laboratories. Entrepreneurs must identify the technology of interest and submit a business plan to be considered for the program. Participants will have until December 15 to make their submission to the Laboratory.
  2. Any of the 15,000 unlicensed patents and patent applications held by the National Laboratories will be available for licensing by startup companies
  3. From May 2 to December 15, the Department will reduce the total upfront cost of licensing DOE patents in a specific technology to a $1,000 upfront fee for portfolios of up to three patents. This represents a savings of $10,000 to $50,000 on average in upfront fees.
  4. Other license terms, such as equity and royalties, will be negotiated on a case by case basis and will typically be due once the company grows and achieves widescale commercial success. These fees help support the Department's continuing research activities to develop new technologies.
  5. The Department will simplify the licensing process and establish a standard set of terms for start-ups, who generally lack the resources, time or expertise to negotiate individual licensing agreements. This will significantly reduce both the time and cost required to process the license, allowing faster access to the Department's patents and enabling the Department to process more licenses in a shorter amount of time.
  6. Entrepreneurs who complete the process and demonstrate progress toward executing their business plan and commercializing the technology will have the opportunity to be showcased at the 3rd Annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in 2012, which brings together leading technology startups and clean energy investors from around the country.