DOE Laboratory Portfolios
In FY97, 351 inventions were disclosed by DOE Laboratory researchers. Below are descriptions of three inventions currently managed by the Labs.
Long Range Alpha Detection (LANL): Long Range Alpha Detection or “LRAD” is a technology which can detect alpha radiation at a distance of tens to hundreds of feet from the contaminated object. This compares to the current state of the art which can only reliably detect alpha contamination up to a quarter to one-half inch from the detector. This new LRAD technology provides the ability to efficiently perform decontamination and decommissioning of equipment, buildings, etc., that may have been exposed to transuranic material and also has a wide spectrum of other applications in areas such as nonproliferation and radon monitoring.
BNFL Instruments Ltd., a subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (BNFL), has entered into a two-year $1 million CRADA to support LANL efforts to further develop the technology. LANL also has executed two royalty-bearing exclusive field-of-use licenses for LRAD. One licensee will employ the technology in manufacturing instruments used in decontaminating abandoned or closing nuclear sites. The other will employ the technology in residential radon detection.
Low Density Lipoprotein Fraction Assay For Cardiac Disease Risk (LBNL): Heart attacks often occur in people whose total cholesterol levels put them at only moderate risk, (i.e., those with readings in the 200-240 milligrams per deciliter range). This makes it important to look at other factors that might aid in heart attack prediction. A group from LBNL’s Cholesterol Research Center has developed a novel method for measuring lipoprotein subspecies that have important clinical implications for patients with high cholesterol. The unique calibration procedure allows researchers to identify individuals with a predominantly atherogenic “Pattern B”phenotype. The Pattern B trait, a Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL, the so called “bad” cholesterol) profile, is found in 40-50% of patients under age 65 identified with early heart disease. The trait also is seen in 30-35% of adult men and 15-20% of postmenopausal women. Individuals with this “Pattern B” lipoprotein subclass have been found to respond well to dietary and drug treatment interventions. In contrast, individuals with a predominance of larger LDL particles (“Pattern A”) require different treatment strategies. LBNL’s new technique has immediate application in helping to tailor the most effective patient diet, exercise, and medication regimes for heart disease prevention and treatment. Berkeley HeartLab, a start-up company that formed to commercialize this technology, has obtained an exclusive license and also is sponsoring further research in this area at LBNL.
Ultra High Gradient Insulator (LLNL): Researchers from LLNL and Allied Signal have pioneered a new insulator called the Ultra High Gradient Insulator. This device uses extremely thin layers of alternating conducting and insulating material to sustain electrical voltage. The device is far more reliable and sustains about four times the electrical voltage of conventional insulators. It therefore could result in a four-fold decrease in size as compared with similar insulators in current use. Applications include accelerators, x-ray machines, and semiconductor production tools. This technology was a winner of the 1997 R&D Magazine annual R&D 100 Awards.
Patenting and Licensing
In FY97, the Laboratories filed a total of 256 patent applications. Whereas OTT and campus offices contract with attorneys at outside law firms for all of their patent prosecution activity, the Laboratories manage most US patent filings internally through their own legal departments and contract out only for selected matters, particularly foreign prosecution.
The licensing function is managed within the context of larger departments responsible for fostering a variety of partnerships with industry: LBNL’s Technology Transfer Department, LLNL’s Industrial Partnerships and Commercialization Department, and LANL’s Civilian and Industrial Technology Program Office. These departments also focus resources toward negotiation of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) with industry.
In FY97, the Laboratories completed a total of 40 new options and licenses for patentable inventions and tangible research products (TRPs). Licensing of other types of intellectual property (e.g., copyrighted software) represent a significant additional element of current licensing activity.
The DOE Laboratories generated a total of $2.9 million in income during FY97, up from $1.5 million in FY96. All of the Laboratories contributed to this increase, which resulted from a combination of fees from newly issued licenses and the receipt of royalties on sales of technology first licensed several years ago.
Information on DOE patenting and licensing expenses is not provided in this report. Patent expenses are budgeted separately as allowable costs under the University’s current contract with DOE and are not readily separable from other expenses of the legal departments. Similarly, operating expenses of the licensing function are not readily separable from other expenses of the technology transfer departments. Finally, income generated by the DOE Laboratories is not subject to a State share assessment.
Inventor share payments of $1,142,302 included $95,896 paid to authors of software. These payments were based on financial activity through September 30, 1997.
**Data reflects patent prosecution initiated on behalf of either DOE or the University.
**Although patent prosecution may be initiated on behalf of DOE or the University, the University seeks to obtain title, by election or waiver request, to only those Laboratory inventions that are identified as having licensing potential.DOE Laboratory Portfolios
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