First steps towards commercialisation
Following the group’s scientific breakthrough, Thomas Carell initially envisaged setting up a company to commercialise the invention. The patent held by Professor Carell would protect exploitation of the technology, although they would still need a licence from Scripps, since they were building on Barry Sharpless’s invention.
In the meantime, however, BASF had refocussed its strategy and had started using the labelling technology for other purposes. As a result, it stopped supporting a number of projects in the DNA field. BASF and LMU tried to find a licensee for the patent. Having failed to do so, by the end of 2007 the idea of establishing a company was once again on the agenda, and in April 2008, Carell and BASF together founded Baseclick. Gramlich and Manetto, both from Carrell’s lab, joined the company as its first employees.
BASF and the LMU sold the patent application to Baseclick for a one-off payment and a royalty-based licence fee. In 2009, Frischmuth joined the company as CEO, changing its focus from research to development. The aim was to market the technology competitively. To that end, the production of chemicals using click chemistry to modify nucleic acids was improved to allow them to be made cheaply and on a large scale.
What does selling a patent actually mean?
Having sold the patent, do BASF/LMU still own any rights?