Obtaining and managing patent rights for an invention is very expensive; a US patent can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 over its 20 year life span. Foreign patents can be extremely expensive, often costing in excess of $150,000 to $250,000 (from filing to issue) depending on the countries the patent rights are being pursued.
ITA oversees outside patent counsel to manage patent prosecution and usually assumes all costs associated with doing so, until the point at which the technology is licensed. Once the technology is licensed, licensees are expected to reimburse the University for past and future patent expenses. While ITA makes every effort to ensure that patent costs are reimbursed from licensees, in certain circumstances extraordinary patent costs associated with licensed patents may be deducted from gross licensing revenues before such revenues are distributed.
However, even if a commercial partner has not been identified, ITA may incur the patenting costs if there is a reasonable likelihood that those costs can be recovered from a commercial partner later.