World Intellectual Property Organization

Technology transfer and intellectual property activities in the Engineering Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)

The UNAM Engineering Institute comprises 827 people, of which 196 are academic staff, 442 scholarship students and 189 administrative employees. The Institute's total budget for 2001 amounts  to approximately US$28 million. Of that amount, ten million are from the UNAM appropriation and the rest is from its own budget, generated mainly through the sale of services and the licensing of technologies.

The Intellectual Property Group of the Engineering Institute, set up in 1998,  forms part of the Planning and Liaison Secretariat and its main duties are:

  • advising members of the Engineering Institute and the whole UNAM community on intellectual property matters;
  • carrying out prior art searches;
  • providing intellectual property training for Engineering Institute and UNAM staff;
  • advising the Engineering Institute management on intellectual property matters;
  • providing recommendations as to the suitability of patenting the inventions produced in the Engineering Institute, as well as the renewal of the industrial property rights of inventions made therein.

The activities of the Intellectual Property Group have facilitated the transfer of technology from the university to micro and small enterprises. In some cases, for example those relating to environmental engineering, UNAM researchers and professors have helped directly to establish the enterprises in question. In other cases, the Engineering Institute Intellectual Property Group has worked together with inventors so as to facilitate the granting of licenses for patented inventions.

To date, the Engineering Institute has acquired patent protection for 15 inventions, six of which are grouped together in the field of environmental engineering and have been licensed to more than five different licensees from which the Engineering Institute receives royalties. The licensed inventions have been commercialized domestically as well as in Argentina and Chile, thereby competing successfully in the field of treatment of industrial waste water.

The members of the Engineering Institute Intellectual Property Group have participated in most of the licensing processes for these technologies, in relation to the following aspects:

  • drafting the licensing contract;
  • valuing the technology;
  • negotiating with the licensees;
  • verifying whether the parties are fulfilling their obligations.

With respect to the acquisition of intellectual property rights for inventions, the Intellectual Property Group assists researchers in:

  • prior art searches;
  • revision of patent applications, prior to their being filed;
  • contact with the UNAM legal office;
  • formalities with the Mexican Patent Office;
  • relations with foreign patent offices.

In addition to providing intellectual property services for Engineering Institute researchers, the Intellectual Property Group has also offered assistance to researchers in various other UNAM institutes and faculties, as well as to other universities throughout the country, including those in the States of México, Morelos, Tlaxcala, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Baja California and Yucatán.

The Engineering Institute Intellectual Property Group is currently developing the outlines of an industrial property policy, thereby seeking to make the management of the Institute's intellectual property more effective, since UNAM does not have an explicit policy governing this area.

Current situation with regard to the patents of UNAM faculties and institutes

To date, UNAM has 131 patents in force, distributed among faculties and institutes as follows:

Section

Number of Patents

Percentage

Biotechnology Institute

28

21

Materials Research Institute

20

14

Engineering Institute

15

11

Faculty of Medicine

12

9

Biomedical Research Institute

8

6

Physics Institute

8

6

Faculty of Chemistry

8

6

Faculty of Higher Cuautitlán Studies

5

4

Faculty of Engineering

5

4

Atmospheric Sciences Center

4

3

Chemistry Institute

4

3

Institute of Cellular Physiology

3

2

Faculty of Architecture

2

2

Faculty of Higher Zaragoza Studies

2

2

Faculty of Veterinary and Zoological Medicine

2

2

Institute of Maritime and Limnological Sciences

2

2

Faculty of Dentistry

1

1

Institute of Applied Mathematics and Systems Research

1

1

Institute of Astronomy

1

1

Total

131

100

For more information on the intellectual property activities of the Engineering Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, please contact Rodrigo Cárdenas, e-mail address: rodar@servidor.unam.mx

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