As a bioinformatician in industry, if you are and academic who wants to charge for your software, please don’t do this:
Software is free for academic use only. For industry use, please contact our lawyers.
Please do this:
For industry use, software costs $[price] per license. Click here to download a $[more reasonably price] 30 day trial version.
I will never again* contact an institutional patent office.
What invariably happens is that a lawyer takes weeks/months/never to respond to me and then they ask for $15,000. While I am waiting for that to happen, I have found a similar, open source substitute and coded up some other stuff to get it to do exactly what I want.
I have nothing against people wanting to make a buck. I like making a buck as much as the next person. Also, many industry people have deep pockets to spend on things they really need, and I myself would be happy to support academic research. But what we don’t have is time. If you are in a startup, your company's biggest expense is usually salaries for workers and the space they work in. Those costs don’t go away while you are waiting weeks (or forever) to hear back from institutional attorneys.
Yes, we have all heard stories of a big pharma at the beginning of bioinformatics swooping in like Daddy Warbucks spending big coin on some application. But that was when there was one tool to do each thing, and also when big pharma didn’t have any bioinformaticians and didn’t really know what they were doing yet.
I don’t know if that still happens or why software is always $15,000. It seems to me that there is a price point where people can just buy things without having to call a meeting with six people to discuss whether it’s a good idea, and that price is definitely way lower than $15,000.
If software were cheaper you’d get more customers and there is some optimization formula that I don't think anyone is calculating. I expect most software gets no customers. At least they get none from me. But knowing the price, at least, would be a good start.
There is also something about transparency. Am I getting charged more than my competitor for software that was largely funded by government grants? Who knows! Maybe they're getting it for $10,000.
So, in short, if you want to sell your software, just sell it. With a price and shopping cart. Maybe put it on Amazon.
And that, fellow bioinformaticians, is the end of my rant.
*OK, never say never. I would if it was for something very awesome and specific but I would complain about it all day.