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Commercialization of DI

How can we commercialize digital innovation that has been developed at Northwestern University?

The primary process of commercializing digital innovation has always been licensing. Licensing of digital innovation has primarily been based on copyrights and contract law, but could also include other forms of ip including patent rights, trademarks, data rights etc. Sometimes licensing of digital innovation is based on a combination of ip rights and contract law terms. The different types of digital innovation licenses are software licenses, database licenses, data license, creative works licenses, end-user license etc.

What is a software license? A database license? A data license? A creative works license?

A software license is a legal instrument (usually by way of contract law, with or without printed material) governing the use or redistribution of software under copyrights and contract law. Under united states copyright law, almost all software is copyright protected, in source code as also object code form. A typical software license grants the licensee, permission to use or sometimes modify the software in ways where such a use or modification would otherwise potentially constitute copyright infringement of the software owner’s rights under copyright law. An open source license is also essentially a software license.

A database license is also similarly based on copyrights on the database compilation along with contract law to protect the underlying data. If the software has associated patent rights or trademarks, the software license may include these ip rights also.

A pure data license without associated copyrights on a database compilation could be based on contract law only.

A creative works license is similar to software and database license and based on copyrights and contract law.

How does Northwestern University license digital innovation?

Northwestern university invo supports licensing of digital innovation based on software, databases and creative works. These licenses could be exclusive proprietary licenses (for example a software startup spinning out of northwestern university) or non-exclusive proprietary licenses (when licensing to more than one entity) or academic research licenses (when licensing to other academic institutions) or open source/open data licenses (for open licensing) or evaluation licenses (for evaluation purposes only) or end-user licenses (when licensing to end users).

The decision between exclusive or non-exclusive licensing can also be based on northwestern university’s ownership rights i.e. Sole ownership vs joint ownership. Northwestern university invo also has some limited ability to support “on demand” or cloud-based delivery licensing models for digital innovation including software as a service (saas) and data as a service (daas) models on a case by case basis.

What are derivative rights? Why are derivative rights important in licensing digital innovation?

The right to create derivative works is one of the exclusive rights of a copyright holder. This modification or adaptation right is often considered one of the most powerful of all the exclusive rights in copyright, because the right to adapt and modify permits the grantee the right to improve or add to a copyrighted work and creates new copyrights that could vest in the developer of the derivative work, subject to the copyright holder’s original rights in the preexisting work.

It is important to consider and protect the original owner’s derivative rights when licensing digital innovation. For example, in software, derivative rights could be based on source or object code. This is primarily done by referring to derivative rights in a license contract and appropriately contract law.

Still have questions? Please contact INVO.