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Shirking, Sharing Risk, and Shelving: The Role of University License Contracts

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  • Marie Thursby
  • Jerry Thursby
  • Emmanuel Dechenaux

Abstract

In this paper, we develop a theoretical model of university licensing to explain why university license contracts often include payment types that differ from the fixed fees and royalties typically examined by economists. Our findings suggest that milestone payments and annual payments are common because moral hazard, risk sharing, and adverse selection all play a role when embryonic inventions are licensed. Milestones address inventor moral hazard without the inefficiency inherent in royalties. The potential for a licensee to shelve inventions is an adverse selection problem which can be addressed by annual fees if shelving is unintentional, but may require an upfront fee if the firm licenses an invention with the intention to shelve it. Whether the licensing contract prevents shelving depends in part on the university credibly threatening to take the license back from a shelving firm. This supports the rationale for Bayh-Dole march-in rights but also shows the need for the exercise of these rights can be obviated by contracts.

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  • Marie Thursby & Jerry Thursby & Emmanuel Dechenaux, 2005. "Shirking, Sharing Risk, and Shelving: The Role of University License Contracts," NBER Working Papers 11128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11128
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Isabella Leone & Raffaele Oriani & Toke Reichstein, 2015. "How much are flexibility and uncertainty worth in patent licensing?," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 42(4), pages 371-394, December.
    2. Crama, Pascale & De Reyck, Bert & Degraeve, Zeger, 2013. "Step by step. The benefits of stage-based R&D licensing contracts," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 224(3), pages 572-582.
    3. Buenstorf, Guido & Schacht, Alexander, 2013. "We need to talk – or do we? Geographic distance and the commercialization of technologies from public research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 465-480.
    4. repec:kap:jtecht:v:43:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10961-015-9434-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Rothaermel, Frank T. & Thursby, Marie, 2005. "Incubator firm failure or graduation?: The role of university linkages," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1076-1090, September.
    6. Macho-Stadler, Inés & Pérez-Castrillo, David, 2010. "Incentives in university technology transfers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 362-367, July.
    7. Elfenbein, Daniel W., 2007. "Publications, patents, and the market for university inventions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 688-715, August.
    8. Козырев А.Н. & Неволин И. В., 2013. "Применение Алгоритма Решения Задачи Об Оптимальном Распределении Ресурсов К Проблеме Назначения Цены За Использование Интеллектуальной Собственности," Журнал Экономика и математические методы (ЭММ), Центральный Экономико-Математический Институт (ЦЭМИ), vol. 49(3), pages 57-68, июль.
    9. Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Thursby, Marie & Thursby, Jerry, 2009. "Shirking, sharing risk and shelving: The role of university license contracts," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 80-91, January.
    10. Emmanuel Dechenaux & Brent Goldfarb & Scott Shane & Marie Thursby, 2008. "Appropriability and Commercialization: Evidence from MIT Inventions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(5), pages 893-906, May.
    11. Francesco Lissoni, 2013. "Intellectual property and university–industry technology transfer," Chapters,in: Public–Private Innovation Networks in Services, chapter 7, pages 164-194 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Czarnitzki, Dirk & Doherr, Thorsten & Hussinger, Katrin & Schliessler, Paula & Toole, Andrew A., 2015. "Individual versus institutional ownership of university-discovered inventions," ZEW Discussion Papers 15-007, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    13. Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Thursby, Jerry & Thursby, Marie, 2011. "Inventor moral hazard in university licensing: The role of contracts," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 94-104, February.
    14. repec:kap:jtecht:v:42:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10961-016-9489-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Celestine Chukumba & Richard Jensen, 2005. "University Invention, Entrepreneurship, and Start-Ups," NBER Working Papers 11475, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Jung Eun Lee & Younghoon Kim & Yeonbae Kim & Donghyuk Choi, 2010. "The Impact of Technology Licensing Payment Mechanisms on Firms' Innovative Performance," TEMEP Discussion Papers 201071, Seoul National University; Technology Management, Economics, and Policy Program (TEMEP), revised Dec 2010.
    17. Lee Davis, 2006. "Licensing Strategies of the Enterprising - but Vulnerable - "Intellectual Property" Vendors," DRUID Working Papers 06-12, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    18. Massimiliano Granieri & Maria Isabella Leone & Raffaele Oriani, 2011. "Patent Licensing Contracts," Chapters,in: The Economic Valuation of Patents, chapter 9 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    19. Kenney, Martin & Patton, Donald, 2011. "Does inventor ownership encourage university research-derived entrepreneurship? A six university comparison," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1100-1112, October.
    20. Arora, Ashish & Gambardella, Alfonso, 2010. "The Market for Technology," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    21. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:282-303 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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