Commercial exploitation

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ETH Zurich is committed to teaching and research. It develops new scientific knowledge, methods and technologies and makes them available to the business sector and wider society by means of an effective technology transfer. The successful utilisation of existing knowledge can further the creation of innovative products and jobs. Commercial exploitation is not restricted to inventions for which a patent application has been filed. It applies equally to any expertise that may be required to realise a particular technology, to computer programs (software) or biological material.

The Financial Exploitation Guidelines govern the financial exploitation of research results at ETH Zurich. These Guidelines are binding on all employees of ETH Zurich.

Financial Exploitation Guidelines

Commercial exploitation of research results

There are basically two ways of exploiting research results:

  • either a scientist develops his technology to maturity and exploits it by founding his own company (a spin-off of ETH Zurich),
  • or an independent company is sought which develops the product and then markets or sells it.

In both cases, the rights to commercial exploitation of the technology must be transferred from ETH Zurich to the company in question. This is usually done in the form of a license that allows the company to use the results in a specified way. The conditions for this use are laid down in a license agreement that is negotiated by ETH transfer.

Sometimes, companies reserve certain rights to exploit the results in the form of an option determined already at the moment when a research collaboration is begun with ETH Zurich. In most cases, the cooperation agreement stipulates who may exploit the results and how.

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If you wish to exploit research results or computer programs, please contact ETH transfer. We support members of the ETH community in all contacts with the business sector and assure their freedom of research and scientific independence.

License agreements have to be approved by the Vice President Research and Corporate Relations mandatorily.

At ETH Zurich, the inventors participate in the income derived by ETH Zurich, for instance by licensing an invention or other intellectual property.

The first revenues that ETH Zurich obtains will initially be used to cover the costs of patenting and marketing (e.g. for patent attorneys).

The remaining income will, as a rule, be distributed as follows (subject to any financial claims by a third party):

  • 1/3 to the inventor(s)
  • 1/3 to the responsible professorships for further research purposes
  • 1/3 to ETH Zurich to support research and technology transfer activities

Open source licensing

Open source is a special option of licensing intellectual property. It is primarily used for software, but may also apply to music, literature and art and to know-how. In the following, we focus on computer programs:

Open Source licenses

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