Q&A with Mary Albertson – Director of OTL at Georgia Tech

Mary Albertson Georgia Tech Office of Technology Licensing

Mary Albertson Georgia Tech Office of Technology Licensing

The office of Technology Licensing is bustling with new and exciting changes and is thrilled to be led under the new leadership of Mary Alberston, Director of OTL. With her expertise guiding many entrepreneurs along the path to commercialization, many successful inventions have become a reality through fruitful collaboration with the Office of Technology Licensing. Mary’s wealth of knowledge and expertise is available right here on campus, making it easy for any Georgia Tech inventor to submit an invention disclosure.  In a recent interview, Mary shares details on her past experiences, as well as how her office works.

What is your background?

Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in academic technology transfer. After 26 incredible years at Stanford's Office of Technology Licensing, a global leader in tech and innovation management, I continued that journey for two more years as part of the University of Utah's team. My travels with the Technology Licensing office allowed me to share what I learned about globalizing technology through teaching seminars worldwide, as well as serving as president of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), connecting with industry professionals from all corners of the globe. Now here at Georgia Tech, it is my mission to use this renowned institution's full entrepreneurial potential and make Georgia Tech one of the most significant commercialization showcases in the world.

What is the most innovative patent/invention you've seen come across your desk? 

I'm constantly amazed and inspired by the inventions that come my way. An IP that recently came across was quite interesting – a revolutionary method for processing amniotic fluid, allowing it to be used for regenerative purposes. Eliksa Therapeutics recently obtained a license for this product and intends to launch it as a treatment for ophthalmological diseases. I'm excited to see how this could revolutionize medicine in the future.  

Why should I protect my IP by filing an invention disclosure?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is taking lab breakthroughs and giving them life in the hands of companies that can develop them. IP includes patentable technologies, copyright (including software), and trademarks that can positively affect society beyond monetary value. Our office is here for those who want to see their invention become a reality - and by commercializing your technology with us, you’re part of a larger mission: supporting Georgia Tech in its goal of becoming one of the premier institutions in entrepreneurship and commercialization. Not only does this make positive contributions within our wider community, but it also brings great satisfaction to Georgia Tech and the inventors to see their work taken to the next level. It truly brings me joy to see this crucial part come together.

Who can file one?

Anyone from the Georgia Tech community can submit a disclosure, including students, faculty, and staff.   

When should I file it?

The simple answer is several months before you make a public disclosure, such as a publication or presentation at a conference. If it's determined that patent protection is the best route to take with your invention, we need ample time to evaluate the invention and have a patent attorney write an application. If we don't have a chance to file before publication, we lose foreign rights but can maintain rights in the U.S.

Before submitting your disclosure, you do not need to evaluate if your invention is patentable or has commercial potential. The OTL staff can do it for you.

Does filing an invention disclosure prevent me from publishing my work?

No, it does not. We want to file a provisional patent application before you publish. However, if you have already published, we will still evaluate the value of applying in the U.S.

What happens after I file, and what is the typical timeline?

We start with an evaluation process to give us guidelines on whether your invention has commercial potential and, if it needs to be patented, does it have any apparent issues with patentability. Within 60 days of disclosure, we will decide whether to go forward with your invention. If it needs to be patented, we will initiate the filing of a provisional application. Within ten months of filing the provisional application, we will decide whether to convert the application to a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application or a U.S. application. During these ten months, we meet with the inventors regarding new findings and explore the market. Time to license, if that occurs, is highly variable and may occur months to years after disclosure.

Are there other support functions that OTL can provide me?

As your licensing partner, OTL can assist with getting licensed-related paperwork taken care of, such as invention-related Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA). We can also provide introductions to other relevant groups like VentureLab that may be of assistance. And don't worry - if things start to feel overwhelming, we're available for one-on-one or group meetings to discuss the licensing process.  

Who can I reach out to for a follow-up discussion?

You can email me directly at mary.albertson@gatech.edu or call 770-658-8820. I look forward to hearing from you!