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License to Thrive

How you can profit from big companies' tech ideas

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This story appears in the October 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Big companies like IBM and Microsoft spend billions of dollars every year to research and develop new technologies, most of which they will never commercialize. But that doesn't mean you can't. Large corporations are increasingly willing to license their patents, trademarks and other intellectual property to small companies that can profitably bring them to market.

Microsoft Corp.'s IP Ventures division is one of the newest examples of this trend. This unit of the software giant has begun offering licenses for technologies for biometric identity authentication, counterfeit-resistant labels, face detection and tracking, and other intellectual property in its portfolio. "They have a bunch of IP they don't know how to or [don't] intend to commercialize," explains Sam Jadallah, general partner of MDV-Mohr, Davidow Ventures, a Menlo Park, California, VC firm.

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