Intellectual Property Governance and Knowledge Creation in UK Universities
The public discourse advocating increased patenting of academic discoveries, which has led to the approval of legislative measures (such as the Bayh Dole Act, which is now adopted world-wide in various forms) is based on a set of theoretical arguments, mainly related to knowledge transfer and financial reward. Using an original survey of 46 universities (about 27%) in the United Kingdom, we investigate whether some of these arguments are supported by evidence. We focus on the extent to which patents, as opposed to other forms of intellectual property (IP) protection mechanisms, enhance knowledge circulation, and especially contribute to universities’ own knowledge creation processes. We also investigate whether universities consider the markets for ideas and creative expressions to function efficiently. We find that universities use all forms of IP intensively in order to transfer their knowledge to industry or government. However, they mainly rely on non-proprietary IP (open source and no-patent strategies) when aiming to enhance their own knowledge creation processes. Also, universities do not find that markets for patents or copyrights function more smoothly than non-proprietary IP marketplaces. The results challenge the orthodox theories on the rationales for patents and other proprietary intellectual property rights (IPRs). Thus, we question the assumptions and arguments underpinning the implementation of patents on academic research outcomes via political reforms since the 1980s
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