Day: October 5, 2017

3Q: Lesley Millar-Nicholson on MIT's Technology Licensing Office – MIT News


3Q: Lesley Millar-Nicholson on MIT's Technology Licensing Office – MIT News

When MIT engineers and scientists invent a new technology they think could find a foothold in the commercial marketplace, they come to the Technology Licensing Office (TLO). The office is responsible for all things related to MIT intellectual property. The TLO receives approximately 800 invention declarations each year. From those, TLO officers file 400 to 500 patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and they receive a green light for 200 to 300 of them. What’s more, the TLO manages a portfolio of over 2,500 already U.S.-issued patents and 1,500 pending U.S. patents for the Institute, as well as a myriad of foreign patents.

“That means there’s an awful lot of work going on,” says Lesley Millar-Nicholson, who, after 10 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, became the director of the TLO in July 2016. Millar-Nicholson sat down with the School of Engineering to demystify the role of the TLO, explain when scientists and engineers should use the office’s expertise, and describe the TLO’s strategy of patience for investing in new technologies.

Q: How does the TLO fit into MIT’s mission and innovation ecosystem?

A: One of MIT’s goals is to have global impact through research. Our part of that mission is to get technologies that arise from research into the hands of people who are going to develop them further, and hopefully, have an impact in society — whether it’s new vaccines, new types of technology for clean air or clean water, and so on.

Our role is a laundry list of things that aren’t exactly self-evident from our name. In general, we are receiving inventions, ascertaining with inventors whether there is something that may be commercialized, protecting the inventions by working through the U.S .Patent and Trademark Office to get patents issued, finding licensees — startups or other companies — negotiating the licenses, and if they create revenue, receiving consideration for the license, distributing that revenue back to inventors, academic departments, labs, and centers across MIT. Licensing is just one part of the complex operation of managing what is effectively one of the most prolific academic intellectual-property centers in the world. 

Other, less obvious, activities include: working with researchers to enable them to transfer or receive materials from other academic or commercial entities, negotiating complex intellectual property [IP] terms in sponsored research or strategic engagements with corporations — such as the recent MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. We provide advice and guidance for researchers wishing to make their work available via open source licenses. We also manage the MIT trademark and use of name by third parties. We work alongside innovation and entrepreneurship programs such as Sandbox and the Deshpande Center to ascertain IP ownership, or licensing needs. Our licensing officers make presentations across campus about IP, commercialization and strategic licensing topics. We welcome engagement with the MIT community to help advance knowledge and innovation.

Q: When is something really an invention?

A: There are four tests in the USPTO. Very basically they are: Is it patentable subject matter? (Certain things cannot be patented, for example laws of nature.) Then, is it new or novel? As in, is it known to the public already, and is it nonobvious? That means, is it something truly beyond the state of the art in an existing patent or known technology? Lastly, does the technology have ‘utility,’ does it provide some benefit and functionality? There are other questions we will ask of the inventors as we go through the disclosure process with them, but if we are seeking a patent these are some of the fundamental questions that will be asked. Note that we also we manage non-patentable technologies, such as copyright through open source and other licensing agreements.

MIT researchers who think that they have something which has potential for impact in the world, should come to see us if they’re ready to publish or present their work, or if they have any question about whether they should disclose information about their research — even if it’s just an abstract on the web or a social media site. Do come and talk to us. Publishing without protecting the invention means we might lose certain patent rights, which may be important for commercialization in the future.  We have a simple invention disclosure process, which is completely online.

Q: What strategy does the TLO use to be successful?

A: We have to ‘keep the faith.’ The technologies we see are very early-stage, and it takes a lot of time and other investment — venture capital, for example — from others to fully develop a technology into a product or service. We, meaning MIT, invest in the technologies that are disclosed to us by devoting time and funding to getting the appropriate IP protection and finding licensees. The patent costs run upwards of $40,000 per U.S. patent, from filing through issuance and over its 20-year life.

When we file a patent, it takes at least two to three years to get it issued through the USPTO. A company might license it, but then it might take five to 10 years before a company actually makes products and creates revenue. So, that’s seven to 13 years from the first time the invention was disclosed to us to the point a company licensing the technology might be revenue positive. Those companies that do make revenue are still in the minority. Companies may fail, or technologies fail for all sorts of reasons.

However, that’s why MIT built this ecosystem, to provide more opportunities for success for more companies willing to invest in MIT research. We have the luxury of having tremendous support from the administration and an appropriate budget to patent the technology. That’s also why The Engine exists: patient capital, to recognize that there are technologies that are going to take a lot longer to develop which need longer-term support. 

One of the recent standout examples we point to is digital TV. MIT enabled digital television through a significant number of patents that just expired. These patents brought a large revenue stream to MIT, and made a tremendous impact. What’s interesting is the length of time it took for the market to adopt the technology and ultimately to derive revenue, some of which was returned to MIT in the form of royalties: The original disclosure was made to the TLO in 1989, and MIT received 85 its its total licensing revenue between 2006 and 2014.

We play the long game here. We have to efficiently protect MIT’s intellectual property. We don’t play for revenue, we play for impact. We work closely with faculty and researchers to understand how their ideas might be commercialized, sometimes in markets that don’t exist yet. No crystal ball. Just pragmatism and patience.

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Top 10 Market Negatives – Cramer's Mad Money (10/4/17)


Top 10 Market Negatives – Cramer's Mad Money (10/4/17)

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV Program, Wednesday, October 4.

The market’s winning streak is increasing and the bears will catch up eventually. Cramer gave his list of 10 negatives that can hamper the bull rally.

  1. Banks: If the non-farm payroll report is weak on Friday, then Fed will drop the idea of raising rates in December which will impact the bank stocks especially when they are due to report in two weeks.
  2. Rails: The rail stocks have gone far ahead of themselves. Despite President’s support for coal, its outlook is grim and the cargo shipment has picked up barely. On top of that, the rails have been downgraded. “CSX’s (NYSE:CSX) stock is up 44% for the year thanks to the miracle man at the helm, Hunter Harrison, and it seems so overdone that even I, a railroad fan, have to say enough is enough,” said Cramer.
  3. Semiconductors: If the prices of flash memory chips roll over, it will affect semiconductors stocks like Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) and it will have a pin action on the rest of the group. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) supplier’s stocks are also taking a beating on iPhone worries.

  4. Aerospace: If the top stock Boeing (NYSE:BA) does not beat consensus and raises guidance in the upcoming results which will include Rockwell Collins (NYSE:COL) acquisition, then there will be aggressive profit taking.

  5. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX): Cramer expects Starbucks to decline as the company undergoes structural changes.

  6. FANG: The FANG stocks have been down lately. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is in the middle of an investigation. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has Whole-Foods acquisition, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) raises growth concerns and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) hasn’t revealed much about its self-driving car.

  7. Chemicals: The hurricane will complicate the earnings for top chemical companies. “There are always some investors out there who haven’t factored this stuff in,” said Cramer.

  8. Machinery: Construction stocks have been rising but Cramer thinks they cannot keep up their pace after earnings.

  9. Oil: “The oil stocks have had quite a run lately. Call me nervous about number cuts,” added Cramer.

  10. Cloud: The cloud stocks have been running and Cramer thinks the companies should talk about how the industry is adopting the cloud else there will be profit taking.

“So, for those of you who think I’m a Pollyanna and an aggressive cheerleader and an all-bull all-the-time guy, there’s my list of worries. You know about what I’m concerned about. Doesn’t mean that these stocks can’t go higher. But the bottom line is that the strong action in so many stocks has turned into a headwind for the stocks, a self-fulfilling headwind, which means we’ll need to get some extra blowout numbers if these names are going to continue to advance,” concluded Cramer.

Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP) and Bill Ackman

The proxy fight between ADP CEO Carlos Rodriguez and activist Bill Ackman is heating up. Ackman is pushing for board seats to improve business model of the company. Cramer interviewed Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman to know his take on the matter.

“Our new question for ADP is why is it that ADP has lower labor productivity than all of their competitors?” asked Ackman. He adds that ADP generates $160,000 per employee compared to $224,000 per employee by its competitors. “When you think about ADP, it has enormous scale versus the competitors. So, if anything, they should have more efficiency,” he added.

ADP competes 25% business with PayChex (NASDAQ:PAYX) which manages its expenses and has better margins which is used to invest in technology. Ackman expects ADP to mimic that strategy. When Cramer posed the question of why Ackman has gone after ADP, he said that ADP is a great company with good performance, but it has massively underachieved its potential.

“I think the advisors who advise companies on defending themselves from activists, they say, ‘Look, you don’t want to show that you’re even open to what they have in mind, because if you do, then a lot of new people are going to come into the stock, a lot of more event-driven investors, and they’re going to make it inevitable. You’re going to lose a proxy contest,'” added Ackman. His previous conversations with Rodriguez were cordial but once Ackman went on TV, his behavior towards Ackman changed.

Conflict aside, ADP is a symbol when it comes to his mission as an activist investor. “When the founder is around and in the boardroom, you’ve got a major shareholder there, companies don’t lose their way. It’s typically after the founder steps off the board, retires, passes away, that the board becomes more professionalized. There’s no one in the boardroom that owns a lot of stock in the company. And they get a little complacent. I think what activism is about is putting major shareholders in boards of directors so even though the founder is gone, there’s someone there watching the store,” said Ackman.

The proxy battle will come head to head at ADP’s annual shareholder meeting. “I think shareholders, really, all they care about is, is there an enormous opportunity to improve this company? Can adding a major shareholder to the board increase that probability? And I think the answer that we’re hearing is yes,” concluded Ackman.

Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN)

Tyson’s stock went down 30% in the last year but has moved up 20% in the last three months. He called it a great house in a bad neighborhood. The company has managed to transform itself in an industry which is troubled. After series of good quarters, the company’s stock is gaining momentum.

“In superhero terms, I’d say Tyson got its powers by mutating. The company changed in some big ways and it’s quickly resulted in better numbers,” said Cramer. The company’s problems started in a poultry price-fixing scheme in 2016. The issue still exists but it less relevant as the company has evolved in execution strategies.

They have new initiatives, a new leadership team, a goal of using only antibiotic-free chicken and focus on healthy treated animals. All these are paying off. Apart from that, their $3.2B acquisition of AdvancePierre Foods has given Tyson exposure to ready-to-eat product line and convenience stores, which are outperforming the supermarket.

The stock trades at 13 times only despite all the positives. “Now the company has taken the first steps toward transforming itself. It seems to be in great shape. Even though the stock has skyrocketed in recent months, I think it’s got more room to run,” said Cramer.


The stock of medical device maker DexCom went down by more than 30% last week. Cramer investigated as to what went wrong with a stock he was bullish on.

“DexCom’s problem is pretty straightforward. A week ago, we learned that gigantic company Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) had received FDA approval for its new FreeStyle Libre Flash glucose monitoring system for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. And in many ways, this represents a major competitive threat to DexCom,” said Cramer.

He adds that he underestimated the risk from Abbott Labs. That doesn’t mean DexCom is out. They are leading maker of glucose monitoring systems and hence analysts saw Abbott’s only one to offer blood-sugar monitoring without the routine finger-prick. DexCom has faced these challenges previously as well and has come back. They will be able to stand up against Abbott and offer a product of their own eventually. They will have to increase promotional activities which will cut into their gross margins.

They have a next-generation product set to debut this year and it seems to be more accurate than Abbott’s product. The fact that DexCom is the only company to have received Medicare reimbursement will work in their favor.

“Anyone who’s owned this stock has been obliterated by the Abbott news, and that’s terrible. Mea culpa, again. But at these levels, I believe DexCom will be able to rebound, even if it might take some time,” concluded Cramer.

Viewer calls taken by Cramer

CarMax (NYSE:KMX): Cramer doesn’t recommend shorts on the show but he thinks AutoNation (NYSE:AN) should be shorted as a pair trade.


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Changes By AT&T Are Forward-Looking – Cramer's Lightning Round (10/4/17)


Changes By AT&T Are Forward-Looking – Cramer's Lightning Round (10/4/17)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Wednesday, October 4.

Bullish Calls

Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ:SGEN): The stock is back after doing nothing for 4 years. Cramer likes this one.

Benchmark Electronics (NYSE:BHE): It is not cheap, but Cramer likes the company’s cool gadgets and manufacturing designs. It can be bought.

AT&T (NYSE:T): Cramer likes the changes made by the company. He calls AT&T forward-looking. It’s a buy.

Neutral Call

Comtech Telecommunications (NASDAQ:CMTL): “This is one of the first stocks I ever bought, and it is still kicking around here. Let’s go back and talk to them.”

Bearish Calls

Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TEVA): “This bad news should’ve been in the stock. It wasn’t. People had been waiting for it. That’s the loss of Copaxone exclusivity. However, I will tell you this: if you want to buy, Allergan (NYSE:AGN) owns 10% of the company. I think they have to sell that stake. That would be the time to pull the trigger if, indeed, you did want to be in it, of which I’m not crazy about.”

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA): Cramer’s trust sold the stock due to the risk Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) poses. He advised waiting for the stock to decline before getting into it.

Snap (NYSE:SNAP): Stay away till the sellers get out of the stock.


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New Cars Increasingly Crammed With Distracting Technology – U.S. News & World Report


New Cars Increasingly Crammed With Distracting Technology – U.S. News & World Report

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U.S. News & World Report
New Cars Increasingly Crammed With Distracting Technology
U.S. News & World Report
Infotainment technology automakers are cramming into the dashboard of new vehicles is making drivers take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time, a study being released by AAA on Oct. 5 says. (AP Photo/Bill …
New cars have more distracting technology on board than ever beforeWashington Post
New in-car technology can be a dangerous distraction for driversiNews

all 15 news articles »

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