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Licensing and Royalties

How is my invention made available to the public?
Information regarding inventions is distributed by traditional methods such as publication and oral presentation. Technology Transfer Office website ( also contains a comprehensive list of CDC inventions available for commercialization through industry partners. When distribution of the invention requires transfer of materials from CDC or involves a patented or patent pending invention, more elaborate procedures are required. Contact TTO for assistance in determining the appropriate mechanism.

What do I do if somebody contacts me about my invention?
Information that does not pertain to a patented or patent pending invention may be shared unless otherwise restricted by the Agency or CIO. For distribution of non-patented materials forward the request on to your Technology Development Coordinators within your coordinating centers.  Information pertaining to patented or patent pending materials should not be released without first obtaining a confidential disclosure agreement. For information about or distribution of patented or patent pending materials, forward the request on to TTO.

How do I make companies aware of my patented or patent pending invention?
The best contacts are made by word of mouth, most often from the inventors themselves. In addition, TTO does a limited amount of marketing to commercial entities, primarily through printed brochures or Internet publications and promotion at select industry trade shows.

Can I share materials using a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)?
Yes, if materials are not the subject of a patent or patent application, the MTA can be used to share materials with non-profit institutions for research purposes. If the recipient is a commercial entity or the material is the subject of a patent or patent application, contact your Technology Development Coordinator or TTO for assistance in determining the appropriate mechanism.

When is a license used instead of a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)?
Licenses are the appropriate mechanism for distribution of non-patented materials to commercial entities and for distribution of patented or patent pending inventions. The type of license employed and the terms of the license are determined on a case-by-case basis by the Licensing Specialist in TTO.

Can anybody license my invention?
Yes, unless the invention has already been exclusively licensed or foreign trade restrictions apply.

Does my invention have to be patented to be licensed?
No, when distributing non-patented materials to commercial parties, a biological materials license is used and a reasonable royalty is paid. When distributing non-patented materials to non-profit institutions, a material transfer agreement is used and no royalty is paid.

Does my invention have to be licensed to be distributed?
All patented or patent pending inventions should be distributed by patent license only. Non patented inventions are distributed by license when going to a commercial entity and by material transfer agreement when going to academic and non-profit institutions.

What if my patented or patent pending invention is developed under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)?
The CRADA partner has the option for an exclusive license to patented materials developed under a CRADA. If the CRADA partner declines to take an exclusive license, CDC can license the invention to other parties.

Who gets the royalties from a license?
Both the inventor and the laboratory in which the inventor works are entitled to royalties. See the royalty policy in Chapter V of the Technology Transfer Manual for more details or contact TTO.

If you have additional questions, please contact TTO at 770-488-8600 or email at


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Page last reviewed: March 31, 2008
This page last updated: September 2, 2008
Content source: Office of the Chief Science Officer