News | Jan 29, 2018

Navy weapons lab launches inventions with ‘express licensing’

Growing list of technologies now available to businesses through rapid licensing

News Article Image of Navy weapons lab launches inventions with ‘express licensing’

A member of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flies over the Naval Air Warfare Station at China Lake, California. (Ian Cotter/Navy)

A frequent gripe from those involved in the process of developing products from military inventions is “it takes too long.” That’s because a patent license application can often take many months to get negotiated and approved.

But this first step is mandatory when a defense lab wants to transfer its technology to an industry partner for product development.

And businesses, especially small high-tech companies, are pressured to innovate rapidly to keep up with the astounding pace of change in the global marketplace.

Navy lab hears the need for speed

Express licensing is now available from the Naval Air Warfare Center –Weapons Division (NAWCWD), located at the massive 1.1-million-acre testing range in China Lake, California.

The division’s patent portfolio is equally extensive, and through a partnership with TechLink, 25 of the division’s cutting-edge inventions, most with obvious non-military uses, are now listed online with upfront financial terms.

The high torque precision screw tool, for example, was designed by the Navy to install and remove special screws in cylinders. The patent license fee for the lightweight, handheld device is $2,000.

That same amount will also get a company the license for the fumeless latent fingerprint detection, a tool designed for U.S. special operation forces to quickly lift fingerprints from improvised explosive devices in the field using a “smart powder.”

Navy engineers at a computer.

Jonathan Duncan and Nathan Boyer, engineers at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, in China Lake, prepare ballistic tests for a novel missile design. Paul Kakert/Navy)

“We hope that this makes the patent license process faster and easier for small and medium-sized businesses, and leads to more win-win industry partnerships,” said Dylan Riley, director of the technology transfer office at NAWCWD.

Cutting-edge plastics, antennas, and other inventions by the military, often with easy-to-imagine civilian uses, have become lucrative product markets over the years ­– GPS navigation chief among them.

TechLink, the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary, has previously assisted two Army laboratories in establishing express licensing portals on its website at

“The Navy’s lab at China Lake has amazing scientists and engineers,” said Marti Elder, the senior technology manager at TechLink who helps market Navy inventions. “Business should know they’re actively producing technologies that have the potential for success in both military and commercial markets.”

Troy Carter can be reached at or 406-994-7798.

Headshot Image of Marti Elder, CLP

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