Earlier this month Intellectual Property Strategy Network, Inc. (IPSN) and the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) announced the establishment of Japan’s first intellectual property fund, LSIP. As this acronym suggests, LSIP is to be a fund that invests in life-science-related intellectual property, focusing on biomarkers, ES/stem cells, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
"To date, the utilization of patents by Japanese universities has mostly been carried out by the TLO (Technology License Organizations) at each university or by the intellectual property departments within universities. However, the TLOs face numerous financial difficulties and some are closing down. Two main reasons are cited for this: (1) Even though the companies seeking the patent licence from the university want a group of intellectual property that has been sorted and bundled to a certain extent, each university has tended to market its own patents without any coordination, making the patents much less attractive to the companies. (2) University patents tend to be made simply on research results and so the data backing the patent is insufficient, which reduces their value as intellectual property because peripheral patents are not filed. Not only are public research institutions in Japan faced with similar problems, it is also likely that some companies have dormant patents that cannot be put to practical use.
To overcome these problems, the LSIP will collect and bundle intellectual property from universities, the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and other public research institutions, companies and other groups in the four areas described above. The LSIP will carry out supplementary research to fill the insufficiency of the data, and will acquired peripheral patents. This will lead to the formation of attractive bundles of intellectual property and will better enable intellectual property licensing to pharmaceutical and other companies, and the creation of venture business. Even within these four areas alone, it is estimated that there are some 3,000 patents in Japanese universities and research institutions that are worthy of consideration as candidates for inclusion in the fund. The LSIP will carefully study these, and either buy them or acquire the patent rights to use them. The JST, which owns some 5,700 patents, is considering working in partnership with INCJ and is expected to work together with the LSIP.
LSIP will be managed by Intellectual Property Strategy Network, Inc. (IPSN), whose core members have accumulated broad experience as specialists in the front line of the intellectual property strategies of major pharmaceutical companies. IPSN will manage the LSIP with the assistance of outside advisers with knowledge of life-science fields, intellectual property, patents, law, management and other areas. There will be a thorough review of LSIP business after three years of operation, at which point a decision concerning the future of the intellectual property fund will be made. Intellectual property funds are a new field that are only just beginning to emerge globally".