Some cases address technologies that were never patented and widely shared through publication and scientific and technical networks, many of which proved important not only in science but also in developing commercial products and services (e.g.,Sanger-Coulson and Maxam-Gilbert DNA sequencing methods, or the pBR322 cloning vector). Others involve patented technologies that were widely adopted in science and commerce, through nonexclusive licensing and other strategies (e.g., Cohen-Boyer recombinant DNA, Wigler-Silverstein-Axel cotransformation, and polymerase chain reaction). Yet others involve technologies championed by startup firms. In some cases, seminal patents were owned by the firm (e.g., Affymetrix and DNA chips) and in other cases, academic institutions gave exclusive licenses to the startup (e.g., Tufts University and Illumina for bead-array technology).

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