Innovation and Partnerships Office

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Berkeley Lab’s research produces a large number of innovative discoveries, many of which have commercial value and are available for licensing. To discuss licensing possibilities, ideas for new technology applications, markets, or products–contact Innovation and Partnerships Office.

How can I find out about technologies available for licensing?

Berkeley Lab broadly disseminates information about licensing opportunities via the Web, scientific journals, and promotional mailings sent to both corporate executives and the media.

What if I am interested in an area of research, but there is no particular technology listed?

We will try to match you with a scientist doing work in your area of interest.

How does Berkeley Lab choose a licensee?

Berkeley Lab seeks licensees who are most able to bring a technology to market. The criteria we use to qualify a licensee are:

  • R&D capabilities
  • Financial resources
  • Management commitment
  • Experience in relevant markets

How long does it take Berkeley Lab to negotiate a license?

Every license is different. The time depends upon the complexity of the transaction. It generally takes a few months.

How much does a license cost?

Our licensing fee structure is in line with that of other academic institutions.  The cost of a license is based on:

  • The market value of the technology
  • Common licensing practices in the relevant industrial sector
  • Additional development costs involved in bringing the technology to market
  • The scope of the field of use or geographic region

The financial terms include:

  • An issue fee, which is nonrefundable and due upon execution of the agreement;
  • A running royalty fee, which is most commonly based on a percentage of sales;
  • A minimum annual royalty fee; and
  • Other financial terms appropriate to the technology and market, such as milestone payments.

We endeavor to find win-win solutions and are experienced in working with small businesses and start-ups.  We sometimes accept equity as part of a licensee’s financial commitment.

What other important requirements are in Berkeley Lab licenses?

We are committed to ensuring that our licensed technologies are commercialized so that the public ultimately benefits.  Berkeley Lab licensees must meet mutually agreed upon performance requirements that reflect diligent progress towards commercialization. More on licensing practices.

What is the typical length of a license?

Berkeley Lab licenses often run for the life of the patent although other terms are available.

Can I get an exclusive license from Berkeley Lab?

Licenses may be totally exclusive, exclusive for a particular field of use or geographic region, or non-exclusive.

In all Berkeley Lab agreements, the U.S. government is granted a fully paid-up, nontransferable, non-exclusive license to use the invention for government purposes only, as is the case with other federally funded inventions.

Will Berkeley Lab allow me to sublicense?

Generally, yes, if you have an exclusive license.

Do I have to manufacture in the U.S.?

Under an exclusive license, the technology must be substantially manufactured in the U.S. for sales to the U.S. market.

Will Berkeley Lab assign all patent rights to my company?

No, Berkeley Lab retains patent rights to its technologies. Your company will be granted a license to use the technology.

Are Berkeley Lab technologies ready for immediate commercialization?

It usually takes at least a year, and often longer, to develop the technology into a commercial product.

Are licenses available to non-U.S. companies?

Yes, although as a federally-funded facility, Berkeley Lab has a preference for U.S. companies.