"The Technology Transfer System" Review by Tony Criswell

LATHAM BOOK PUBLISHING, 1997. xiii +240 pp. $24.95 (HARDBACK).
P. O. Box 908 LATHAM NY 12110-0908.

Review by Tony N. Criswell, PMP
[email protected]


(Many thanks to Tony for passing this along. You can learn more about Tony at: as he was featured as the Talent of the Week on 4/11/03. Russ)


This review came about as the result of a question I asked at the 1997 SRA Annual Meeting in Atlanta. I was attending a session on technology transfer and asked whether there were any references a person might use to become more familiar with the process. The panelists could not refer me to a specific work, but suggested I review past issues of the SRA Journal for articles on technology transfer then check the bibliographies of those articles.

As I left the session, Lisa den Hamer, the associate editor for Reviews for the SRA Journal, showed me the book that is the subject of this review. She asked if I would be willing to review it for the Journal. I quickly pointed out that I was new not only to technology transfer but to the field of research administration (having just begun in July 1997). She thought that might be a valid perspective for a review of this particular book. So here, fellow members, is a newcomer’s view of The Technology Transfer System, by Albert E. Muir.

The book is divided into three parts: Part I, Setting, begins with an interesting historical view of efforts to protect intellectual property (IP), technology, and inventions. Muir traces the flow of these ideas from China, India, and the Arab world to Greece and the rest of Europe. He then discusses the evolution of IP protection in the United States through trade secret and patent laws. Muir concludes this evolutionary view by looking at the participants in technology transfer in today’s settings, including governments, universities and colleges, and industry.

Part II, Practice, discusses the nuts and bolts of bringing a product to market. While this section is of value to all readers, it is especially important to the individual inventor. Here is where Muir gets into methods of financing (e.g., venture capitalists or existing companies), licensing, company formation, contracts, and patent concerns.

Part III, Oversight, is geared toward the technology transfer organization and is of particular interest to a manager of a tech. transfer department. Muir gives an overview of management and evaluation of the technology transfer office. He also delves into different aspects of governmental policy and the use of government-sponsored or -owned material.

The appendix includes several agreements that are helpful in fashioning standard forms for the technology transfer office. Also included are detailed royalty rate spreadsheet templates that can be constructed to allow the office to formulate rates based on different criteria.

In my view as a neophyte in the technology transfer business, this book does exactly what it intends to do and exactly what I wanted when I asked the question about references. It does not go into great depth on any one topic, but gives the reader an excellent overview of the whole subject. The bibliography is extensive enough to give those who are interested in pursuing a particular aspect of technology transfer a point at which to begin further research. It is easily read and will remain on my bookshelf as a quick reference to the world of technology transfer and commercialization.

[This review was first published in the Society of Research Administrators publications, SRA Journal, Volume XXIX, Numbers 3 and 4 Winter 1997/Spring 1998. Used with permission.]

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