by Christian Neumann

Background
The Bayh-Dole Act created a uniform patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research, thereby enabling non-profit organizations and small businesses, including universities, to retain titles to inventions made under federally-funded research programs. This legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Birch Bayh of Indiana and Robert Dole of Kansas and was enacted on December 12, 1980. What was the situation before? Hundreds of valuable patents were sitting unused on the shelf because the federal government, which sponsored the research that led to the discovery, lacked the resources and links with industry needed for development and marketing of the inventions. The Act was meant to promote the commercialization of this research, which, it was thought, might otherwise languish for lack of proponents with a strong financial interest. For this reason, the Act encourages universities to participate in technology transfer activities. Prior to Bayh-Dole, fewer than 250 U.S. patents were issued to universities each year. Since 1993, U.S. universities participating in the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) Survey have averaged more than 1,600 U.S. patents annually. Recently, patents issued to U.S. universities have exceeded 2,000.


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