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Good guy NASA just released over 1,200 patents to tech startups, free of charge

As the foremost aeronautics and space organization in the world, NASA has amassed an absolutely huge collection of patents over the years. These innovations have been closely guarded by the organization for decades, but just last week, the agency decided to pull an Elon Musk, and release more than 1,200 of its technology patents to the world.

The idea is that providing easier access to the agency’s patents will help foster innovation in the tech sector. “The Startup NASA initiative leverages the results of our cutting-edge research and development so entrepreneurs can take that research — and some risks — to create new products and new services,” explained David Miller, NASA’s chief technologist.

There is one catch to all of this, though. NASA isn’t fully releasing all of its patents. Instead, it’s basically giving tech startups an open invitation to license patented NASA tech with no upfront costs. The agency will waive the initial licensing fees, and there are no minimum fees for the first three years — but once a startup starts selling a product, NASA will collect a standard net royalty fee.

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That said, even with royalty costs later on down the road, free and unfettered access to the agency’s patent portfolio could be well worth it to the right startup. NASA’s patents range from materials coatings to sensors, aeronautics technology, instrumentation, and more — so there’s plenty of room for innovation.

The agency has even gone the extra mile and put together a “streamlined, online patent portfolio covering 15 categories and packed with patents protected by the U.S. government.” You can seriously just browse through the patent collection online, and once you’ve pinpointed a desired technology you think you could commercialize, you can get the ball rolling by filling out and submitting application through the website.

Further information on the initiative, as well as application info, can be found on NASA’s dedicated Web page.