ETH Zurich is committed to teaching and research. It develops new scientific knowledge, methods and technologies and makes them available to the business sector and the wider society by means of an effective technology transfer. The successful utilization of existing knowledge can further the creation of innovative products and jobs.
Commercial exploitation is not restricted to inventions for which a patent application has been filed. It applies equally to any know-how that may be required to realize a particular technology, to computer programs (software) or biological material.
The Financial Exploitation Guidelines govern the financial exploitation of the research results at ETH Zurich. These Guidelines are binding on all employees of ETH Zurich.
There are basically two ways of exploiting research results: either a scientist develops his technology to maturity and exploits it by founding his own company (a spin-off of ETH Zurich), or an independent company is sought which develops the product and then markets or sells it. In both cases, the rights to commercial exploitation of the technology must be transferred from ETH Zurich to the company in question. This is usually done in the form of a license that allows the company to use the results in a specified way. The conditions for this use are laid down in a license agreement that is negotiated by ETH transfer.
Sometimes, companies reserve some rights to exploit the results in the form of an option already at the time point of starting a research collaboration with ETH. In most cases, the cooperation agreement stipulates who may exploit the results and how.
If you wish to exploit research results or computer programs, please contact ETH transfer. We support members of the ETH community in all contacts with the business sector and assure their freedom of research and scientific independence. License agreements have to be approved by the Vice President Research and Corporate Relations mandatorily.
At ETH Zurich, the inventors participate in the income derived by ETH Zurich, for instance by licensing an invention or other intellectual property.
The first revenues that ETH Zurich obtains will initially be used to cover the costs of patenting and marketing (e.g. for patent attorneys).
The remaining income will, as a rule, be distributed as follows (subject to any financial claims by a third party):
Open source is a special option of licensing intellectual property. It is primarily used for software, but may also apply to music, literature and art and to know-how. In the following, we focus on computer programs:
ETH supports open source software for internal use as well as external licensing. Nevertheless, you have to carefully check whether distribution via open source is the primary choice. The relevant questions are:
Bring your idea to ETH transfer. We will advise you on the best form of licensing and will support you in the process. We will compare open source licenses to special academic licenses or closed source freeware (i.e. free for users, but without access to the source code). According to the Exploitation Guidelines you are free to decide whether you wish to make your software available as open source. The final decision however is with the Vice President Research and Corporate Relations. This means that you are obliged to report your intent to license as open source to ETH transfer and you will in most cases get an official approval within short delay.
Diese Website wird in älteren Versionen von Netscape ohne graphische Elemente dargestellt. Die Funktionalität der Website ist aber trotzdem gewährleistet. Wenn Sie diese Website regelmässig benutzen, empfehlen wir Ihnen, auf Ihrem Computer einen aktuellen Browser zu installieren. Weitere Informationen finden Sie auf
The content in this site is accessible to any browser or Internet device, however, some graphics will display correctly only in the newer versions of Netscape. To get the most out of our site we suggest you upgrade to a newer browser.