University autonomy, IP legislation and academic patenting: Italy, 1996-2007
Using data on patent applications at European Patent Office, we search for trends in academic patenting in Italy, 1996-2007. During this time, Italian university underwent a radical reform process, which granted them autonomy, and were confronted with a change in IP legislation, which introduced the professor privilege. We find that, although the absolute number of academic patents has increased, (i) their weight on total patenting by domestic inventors has not, while (ii) the share of academic patents owned by universities has increased. By means of a set of probit regressions, we show that the probability to observe an academic patent depends largely on the technology considered and characteristics of the local innovation system. After controlling for these determinants, the conditional probability to observe an academic patent has indeed declined over time. Also by means of probit regressions, we find that the rise of university ownership is explained, significantly albeit not exclusively, by the increasing share of public vs. private R&D and by the increased autonomy of Italian universities, which has allowed them to introduce explicit IP regulations concerning their staff\'s inventions. The introduction of the professor privilege has had no impact at all.
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