Changes to university IPR regulations in Europe and the impact on academic patenting
Most European countries since the end of the 1990s have been moving away from inventor ownership of patent rights towards different systems of institutional ownership. This shift is based on the objectives of policymakers to make conditions similar to those in the US, where the 1980 Bayh–Dole Act allows universities to retain intellectual property rights (IPR) over inventions that come out of federally funded research. This article challenges the view that direct comparisons with US experience will enable us to predict the effects of the implementation of institutional IPR ownership systems in Europe. We provide an overview of the current state of regulation on academic patent ownership in selected European countries which shows that, despite the changes to institutional ownership that have been implemented, there is wide diversity in national systems and several important differences with the US framework. Our analysis of patterns of ownership of academic patents shows that there has not been a general increase in university patenting since 1990, and seeming increases may be due to more complex dynamics in academic patenting and academic patents ownership. The paper concludes with a discussion of how changes in IPR regulations and management of technology transfer by universities, and public policies supporting technology transfer are affecting academic patenting and research activities in universities
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