Patenting Public-Funded Research for Technology Transfer: A Conceptual-Empirical Synthesis of US Evidence and Lessons for India
The question of protecting intellectual property rights by academic inventors wasnever seriously contemplated until the introduction of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980 inthe US. The Act allowed universities to retain patent rights over inventions arising outof federally-funded research and to license those patents exclusively or nonexclusivelyat their discretion. This particular legislation was a response to thegrowing concern over the fact that federally funded inventions in the US were notreaching the market place. In this paper, we present a critical review of the USexperience after the Bayh-Dole Act and argue that the evidence is far from beingunambiguous. We discuss the debate surrounding the Act – the extent to which it wassuccessful in achieving its objectives, the unintended consequences, if any, and moregenerally, the effectiveness of IPR as a vehicle of technology transfer fromuniversities. We also discuss the limited evidence on Bayh-Dole type legislationsintroduced in other countries. A new legislation, along the lines of the US Bayh-DoleAct – The Protection and Utilisation of Public Funded IP Bill, 2008 – is presentlybefore the Indian parliament. The paper presents an Indian perspective against thebackdrop of the US experience in an attempt to draw concrete lessons for India.
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