Patents on developments such as the life-saving hepatitis B vaccine, the nicotine patch used to help cigarette-smokers crush their habit and the Camarosa strawberry have all helped to bring in revenue into the UC system, earning over $500 million for the schools and faculty involved.
Because of the potential royalties, licensing fees and stock holdings to be earned through patents, many universities around the nation have recently placed a high importance on the emphasis of helping faculty and research obtain patents.
The UC system collectively earns about $108 million from patents. UC Los Angeles alone generates the most of any UC school with $39 million. Following it are UC San Francisco with $23.3 million, UC San Diego with $20 million, UC Davis with $11.5 million, UC Berkeley with $6 million and UC Irvine with $5.3 million respectively, with the remainder of the UCs grossing the rest.
Six significant patents have been established within the last 20 years at UCR. In 1995, Mikeal Roose revolutionized the Tango, which is a seedless version of the W. Murcott Mandarin, and is now commonly sold under different names such as “cuties” and “delites.” Other valuable patents that have been obtained include Cheryl Hayashi’s patent on spider silk protein, encoding nucleic acids, polypeptides, antibodies and methods of use, and Carol Lovatt’s formulation for a novel phosphorous fertilizer.
While thousands of patented medicines, technologies and agricultural products result from research, only a handful result in big earnings. With the overall UC operating budget adding up to around $26 billion, the amount brought in through patents still pales in comparison. With legal costs, other expenses and 35 percent of revenue directed to faculty inventors, only about $58 million remains.
Following UC President Janet Napolitano’s appointment, she has emphasized the importance of commercialization and creating innovative patents more than her predecessors had.
Michael Tran, a fifth-year biology major expressed his support for the increase in patents. “I believe if the UC is thinking long-term revenue, then patents are the way to go … but if the UC needs money in the next 5 years or so patents won’t really make much of a profit unless it’s a medical based patent.”