History was made in Chicago this past October at a public auction that saw the first-ever sale of rights to government-owned patents. A bidder picked up an exclusive license to a group of NASA patents for signal-processing technology at the event, which was organized by intellectual property managing firm Ocean Tomo LLC. Darryl Mitchell, a technology transfer manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which filed the patents, says technical applications under that license range from voice recognition to financial market modeling.

Known as the Hilbert–Huang transform, the technology covered by the license is a set of algorithms to convert nonlinear, nonstationary signals, such as from ocean or acoustic waves, into frequency data. The patents netted $55 000 plus an undisclosed percentage in ongoing commercialization royalties for Goddard and inventor Norden Huang, a former NASA oceanographer. Goddard’s revenue from the sale will go back into R&D and technology transfer programs,...

You do not currently have access to this content.