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Navy lab transfers technology to firm in just 13 days, jump starts new product

Naval Air Warfare Center's Aircraft Division at Patuxent River licenses patented structural fatigue measuring tool to small business


Darryl Nowak of New Jersey has been a marine construction consultant for over 33 years.

On Tuesday, Nowak licensed from the U.S. Navy a new tool for measuring the fatigue of metal structures.

Invented by the Naval Air Warfare Center's Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at Patuxent River, Maryland, the patented technology will allow his customers to gauge the growth of invisible micro-cracks, which slowly grow to cripple metal structures.

"Cracks are only detectable by non-destructive inspections after they've reached a certain size," Nowak said. "This technology is going to help clients make better decisions, engineering and financial, before steel components are installed underwater where they're harder to access."

The new tool was designed to test the wing structures of Navy fighter jets, but it's not the only novelty. The patent license agreement itself had two notable features.

First, it was the first-ever "express license" signed by the Navy.

In February, NAWCAD partnered with TechLink to begin listing some of its available technologies with predetermined legal and financial terms. Combined with an easy-to-use online application, the express licensing process eliminates negotiations that often hinder technology transfer.

Second, the patent license agreement took just 13 working days to close, from Nowak's submission to signing by the commander of NAWCAD.

That's a record for Department of Defense technology transfer, according to TechLink, the DoD's national partnership intermediary, which facilitates about 60 percent of all DoD licenses.

Nowak's non-exclusive license for the Navy lab's structural fatigue technology cost him $2,000 to execute and comes with a two percent annual royalty and a minimal annual royalty of $1,000, paid to the Navy.

"Typically, we see patent license agreements take around six months," said Dan Swanson, a senior technology manager at TechLink. "Sometimes it can be up to a year. Express licensing allows for transactions to complete in weeks rather than months."

NAWCAD is one of the most successful DoD labs in terms of patent licensing. Two of its employees recently earned recognition as technology transfer professionals of the year.

"We're thrilled to be reaching small businesses with express licensing," said Mike Schroeder, director of NAWCAD's technology transfer office. "This is another great example of how Navy science and technology can benefit the fleet and the U.S. economy."


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