Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The power of the internet....


From the New York Times article (in the magazine) about a variety of artists cultivating fan bases via the internet and how that works/doesn't for them.
These days, Coulton is wondering whether an Internet-built fan base inevitably hits a plateau. Many potential Coulton fans are fanatical users of MySpace and YouTube, of course; but many more aren’t, and the only way for him to reach them is via traditional advertising, which he can’t afford, or courting media attention, a wearying and decidedly old-school task. Coulton’s single biggest spike in traffic to his Web site took place last December, when he appeared on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday,” a fact that, he notes, proves how powerful old-fashioned media still are. (And “Weekend Edition” is orders of magnitude smaller than major entertainment shows like MTV’s “Total Request Live,” which can make a new artist in an afternoon.)
This points out something that many need to remember. The internet is just another tool. It is not the magical elixir that will replace all the other tools. It has power, but it also has limitations.

..and for the record, I have a lot of Jonathon Coulton music running my ipod.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Perfect Storm on Tech Transfer offices?

In my last post, I was talking about the effects of KSR on the world in general, and mentioned that I thought tech transfer offices may be about to have a bad day. Also mentioned the Medimmune case in conjunction with that.

In thinking more about that...it could be a really bad day for the universities on this front.

  • NIH budget is declining.
  • Number of researchers has been ramping up for years (due to doubling NIH budget).
  • Cost of reagents has been increasing at greater than rate of inflation
  • Researchers need money
  • Look to licensing to fill hole with money (amongst many places)
  • "Go to companies" - They are rich - take their cash
  • Obviousness bar is lower
  • Challenge to patents after taking a license is easier
  • Company may choose to may you come after them (belief in winning in court)
  • University may offer cheap license to tempt company to take license rather than a court battle.
Bias against
  • Big wins. The more money there is at stake, the more tempting that shot at the court case looks. If the universities keep their royalties down, to avoid rising to the "worth a challenge" level, they will keep their patents but they may not make very much money
  • Licenses without most favored nation clauses. I probably won't ever sign another one. If someone else challenges, I want to reap the reward of the university bribing them to back off. This will have to happen at some point.
Other predictions
  • Some University will go to court. One of them will think it can push it. I don't know if they will win or not, but it will set the tone for a lot of things. We will all watch that case VERY closely to see what happens. Much case law will be written in the next while here and it will matter a whole lot.
Ummmm....problem. Do I think this will come true? To some degree yes. I also think we will also see a lot of the fallout of their just plain being more licensing offices and more of a mandate to them to market their stuff. That leads to just plain more people chasing a money pool that isn't really growing that much. Each University will, therefor, get less cash.

As a side note to any who might think "but my University is, like, really good at licensing and we are world famous and we will totally be able to stomp out U. of Hicksville". NOT. I don't care what university you are. I need the IP. All your licenses prevent me from using your name anyway so it doesn't matter whether I license from Famous U. or U. Hicksville.

In any case - I am glad I don't run a University Tech Transfer office right now.

more on KSR

In my other post, written while I was still reading the decision, I sort of didn't say anything. Just posted the, to me, interesting bits of the decision.

Now, some things I think are going to shake out of this in no particular order.
  • Less license income for Universities. I think this because a lot of what I see coming out is incremental improvements that involve heavy use of someone else's patents. This is precisely the stuff that the ruling goes after.
  • MORE legal battles. I know I am emboldened today. I assume many others are as well. Someone is going to role the dice in court on this in a bigger way just to see what happens. Kind of hope it is us, but would guess someone will be cautious one here and back off.
  • Put together with the previous ruling in the Medimmune case (and some commentary on it) , which essentially says that "A licensee in good standing can still challenge the validity of the patents" - I see licesors pushing for high up front fee's and licensees pushing back. The high upfronts dont make commercial sense if the technology doesn't work out but the licensor needs to worry about the attack on the patent. Given the lower bar to get it thrown out on obviousness, the attacks will be more frequent. OR the royalties I am willing to pay will be lower, as the cost to fight a patent is still a couple of million dollars and I may not want to bother.
  • MORE INNOVATION. Many biotechs and pharmas are freaked about this BIO filed a brief in opposition to the way this came out. I think they are wrong, but I am in a different business than they are. I fight every day with the patent landscape. Cleaning up a lot of this crap and getting it out of the way will make my life a WHOLE lot better. We will push stuff out much faster if we can clear a lot of the cruft out the road. This will take a decade to come true, as that is the speed things move at, but a boy can dream.... I think the 1 patent 1 compound people will still have a defense if they truely did something. If not, they won't and there will be a problem. I leave that up to someone who knows that area to speak to (derek?)
  • We will spend less on IP filings. If we apply a bit of a filter to our filings we could save money. We won't of course... we will keep on going the way we have been going and see what the patent office does to them. My hope is that they start kicking more back and that we get a chance to actual weed our garden. As long as it isn't happening to us only, it is good. If everyone's garden gets weeded, there will be space to actually ship product.
  • This will help, I think, Diagnostics a lot more than it helps Pharma and biotech. The diagnostics world, as it moves toward molecular diagnostics, is a patent mess. Cleaning that up will help this transition a whole lot more. Pharma and biotech are pitching companies with smaller amounts of IP coverage that if they don't have it they have nothing. That increased level of risk will make them harder to get funded. Diagnostic companies, on the other hand, are generally not bringing IP to the table and are instead trying to duck dodge and weave around it (or exclude everyone else from using the IP they do have.)

That LinkedIn thing....

In my post on finding the new frustration of 10+ years, and the hidden fact that there is always another barrier to getting really cool jobs, I talked about LinkedIn and the fact that I was using that.

I got questions about that, so here are answers (I'm generous that way... or bored with nothing to do, I leave that as an exercise for the reader).

LinkedIn is one of those social networking sites. Given that you know someones name and email address, you should be able to send them an invite and you two get linked together. Were you linked to me (and Bill, we should sort that out) you would be able to see everyone that I know (who is also a LinkedIn member) and, if you wanted to get a job to them you could try and use me to put you in touch with them. If they like me (slim hope...) and I like you then it should help to get your resume in front of them. Given the HR filter that stops a lot of resumes, there is value in this.

I also have used it in the past to find people in companies. Given an introduction from someone they know, I get farther on the first call than I might otherwise. It works for that, and I have used it for that a lot.

For jobs....no data yet. No leads yet. But that is true of every other method I am trying and is also likely some fallout from the fact that I am impatient and have only been really looking for 1 week. We will see how things shake out....

Is LinkedIn necessary to get ahead in business. Probably not, but I do see an awful lot of people in our industry in there. Can it help you get a job. Probably. Anything that gets you in front of people is worth trying. Sure beats spamming Monster.com as a strategy.