"The market can be cruel, but it doesn't lie: Software development algorithms are worth more than cool nanotechnology swarming technologies. That's what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found out this week when it tried to auction three lots of its Goddard Space Flight Center software patents at an event run by the ICAP Patent brokerage. The software development patents sold for $75,000. With a starting price of $50,000, nobody bid on the nanotechnology stuff. And they also steered clear of a bargain-basement $30,000 NASA patent that covered a fancy way of reporting a broken smoke detector."
Keith's note: Its great that the taxpayer gets some return on its investment in NASA research. But rest assured NASA won't tell you what it spent to generate this research in the first place. Rest assured, it was a lot more than $75,000. Not only does the agency not want you to know what its total investment was, it could not even figure out what it spent to generate this intellectual property that was auctioned, even if it wanted to tell you. As for the patents that did not sell, this does not mean that the initial research was not warranted. But it does blow a hole in the notion that all of the cool stuff NASA does is inherently sexy (i.e. patentable).