Mind to Market

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bayh Defends His Act

The Bayh-Dole act changed the environment of university intellectual property when it was introduced in 1980. The act gave U.S. universities control of inventions resulting from federally funded research, gave them the right to license these inventions and earn royalties from those licenses. As a result of the act, Technology Transfer Offices at the major universities sprang up to manage and out-license the IP developed at those universities.

Some very notable tech transfers recently include Google's licensing of Stanford IP which resulted in a windfall for Stanford. This and other very lucrative deals have enticed universities into the commercialization arena, the impacts of which are receiving notice, not all of them favorable.

In an article in the January issue of The Scientist entitled The Trouble with Tech Transfer, Ed Silverman describes the tension between industry and academia with the tech transfer offices alternating between solving and causing the problems. With pressure on the TTOs to generate revenues for the university and to sustain themselves, they are often driving industry away with inflated valuations of their IP. University inventors often have exaggerated expectations; the TTO is expected to develop, commercialize and sell an idea from a single invention disclosure.

In a recent article in GenomeWeb News, one of the original sponsors of the act, former senator Birch Bayh of Indiana came to the defense of his act. Although not citing the source Bayh claimed that criticisms of the act included:

  • Universities and researchers should not be entitled to financial reward because they don't manufacture anything

  • It motivated universities to ignore basic research and be driven by patent royalties

  • IP should not be exclusively licensed because the research is taxpayer-funded

Bayh said that before the act as much as 96% of patents were never licensed resulting no commercialized return on $30 billion in taxpayer revenues.

University TTOs are caught in the nether world between academic socialism and industrial capitalism. Before the Bayh-Dole act, the two worlds had only limited interaction; students received an education, performed some research and then went into industry never to return. With incentives to generate revenues from IP, universities are confronting the same problems confounding the former communist countries; just exactly what is the market value of IP, what is required to commercialize it, and who are these so-called competitors who are trying to devalue our ideas?

    Labels: , ,


    Post a Comment

    Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]


    Create a Link

    << Home