20 Feb 2008

Bayh-Dole: Protecting University IP

Bayh-Dole Act is one of the most inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America till date. According to "Innovation's Golden Goose," an opinion piece published in The Economist in the year 2002: "Together with amendments in 1984 and augmentation in 1986, this unlocked all the inventions and discoveries that had been made in laboratories throughout the United States with the help of taxpayers' money. More than anything, this single policy measure helped to reverse America's precipitous slide into industrial irrelevance."

Enacted in the year 1980, the Bayh-Dole Act created a uniform patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research, enabling small businesses and non-profit organizations, including universities, to retain title to inventions made under federally-funded research programs. This legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Birch Bayh of Indiana and Robert Dole of Kansas.
As per AUTM:

Major provisions of the Act include:

  • Non-profits, including universities, and small businesses may elect to retain title to innovations developed under federally-funded research programs
  • Universities are encouraged to collaborate with commercial concerns to promote the utilization of inventions arising from federal funding
  • Universities are expected to file patents on inventions they elect to own
  • Universities are expected to give licensing preference to small businesses
  • The government retains a non-exclusive license to practice the patent throughout the world
  • The government retains march-in rights.

The Bayh-Dole Act was especially instrumental in encouraging universities to participate in technology transfer activities.

The Union ministry for Science and Technology, to ensure protection to the intellectual property conceived and developed in research centers of universities and public institutions, is planning a legislation on lines of the Baye Dole Act, to provide for better incentives to Universities involved in research work. In all probability the draft of the bill would be tabled in the Parliament very soon.

This Act would lay the foundation of systematic IP management and policies for the Universities which are involved in advanced scientific research. The recently set up Technology Transfer departments at various IITs are a attempt in the direction to Organise the disoriented University IP sector. This is a much needed attempt to protect the inventions which are developed in these centres of knowledge and learning.

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