Throughout her amazing career, today’s guest has had a huge impact on the Tech Transfer community and continues to do so today. Kathy Ku has been working in Tech Transfer since the 1980s and in this episode she shares her unique journey describing her career moves as “happenstance.”
Kathy is the Chief Licensing Advisor in the Palo Alto office of Wilson Sonsini. She is also a member of the technology transactions and the patents and innovations practice groups. She is an internationally recognized leader in the field of Technology Transfer. She served as the Executive Director of Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing for 27 years. During that period OTL licensed hundreds of new technologies, bringing in $1.8 billion, most of which went back to support research and education at Stanford. Kathy also spearheaded the development and implementation of nine principles related to university technology licensing. The principles are set forth in a document entitled “In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology.” More than 120 institutions have adopted the principles since they were published in 2007.
Those principles are discussed in this episode to help provide understanding of what Tech Transfer should look like and what is important to consider. Kathy also shares her experience with the Bayh-Dole Coalition and her dedication to AUTM.
In This Episode:
- [02:47] – Kathy shares her happenstance journey to working in Tech Transfer after an eclectic career.
- [04:21] – She is a chemical engineer by education but also is very familiar with patents.
- [06:56] – Kathy retired in 2018 with plans to travel but explains her change in plans after being offered a position she couldn’t refuse.
- [08:21] – Shifting from Stanford to a law firm, Kathy shares how the transition has been for her.
- [10:04] – Kathy describes the changes in Tech Transfer and how people can now aspire to work in Tech Transfer as a career.
- [13:38] – Kathy and a team put together a “pledge of allegiance” of nine points to follow for Tech Transfer offices.
- [14:05] – The first principle is that universities should reserve the right to practice licensed inventions and allow other non-profit organizations to use them as well.
- [14:44] – The second principle is to structure licenses to encourage development.
- [15:27] – The third principle is to minimize the licensing of future improvements.
- [16:52] – Faculty start-ups can be more challenging to manage.
- [17:23] – Another principle is to have broad access to research tools.
- [18:29] – Be sure that universities are complying with export regulations.
- [18:58] – The next principle is to be mindful of the implications of working with patent aggregators.
- [20:01] – The ninth point is for universities to be mindful of unmet needs.
- [21:19] – The success of licensing inventions depends on a lot of factors outside of the control of the licensing office.
- [22:11] – Kathy believes that Tech Transfer should not just be about the money.
- [23:06] – Kathy describes her work with the Bayh-Dole Coalition.
- [24:30] – What happens when you don’t have patent exclusivity?
- [25:51] – Kathy addresses President Biden’s recent executive order.
- [27:43] – There are many things that Tech Transfer offices are doing right regarding equal representation. But women are less likely than men to be involved in startups.
- [29:51] – Kathy was a part of AUTM from the beginning and shares her experience as president and the impact it has had.
- [31:34] – AUTM meetings are great because all Tech Transfer offices deal with the same problems. Rather than competing, it is all about working together.
- [32:40] – Kathy shares her pride for her career and the impact of Tech Transfer.