Patents and Public Support of Research

Stephen Perelgut sent these really insightful links:

A pro/con discussion of the value of patents – quite instructive in its own right and it lays out the fundamental issues around ownership of IP:

Head to Head: Patents Pro/Con Arguments

Barry Treves, President of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, UK
Patents protect inventions by giving the owner of the patent the right to stop anyone from making or using the invention without the owner’s permission

Terence Kealey, Vice-chancellor and clinical biochemist, University of Buckingham, UK
Patents are a menace. Inventors claim they need patents to incentivise their research but, today, it is the company that fails to innovate that goes bust. Companies take out patents, therefore, to neutralise the competition, so that they need do no more research.

More coherently, the argument for and against public support for research, particularly at universities, is laid out in:

Opening statements: Should public money be used to fund applied research?

Defending the motion
Andrew Miller, Labour MP and Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee
Private funders of research will rarely be persuaded to put the necessary money into the long-term, low-return applied research that was crucial to the early development of space technology or future energy potential such as advanced battery technology.

Against the motion
Terence Kealey, Vice Chancellor, University of Buckingham
The OECD has speculated that, when governments fund research, they might only displace or crowd out its private funding. Companies fund their own research, so, when governments fund it, companies may simply withdraw their own money.

This also looks promising

Moira H. Decter, (2009) “Comparative review of UK-USA industry-university relationships”, Education + Training, Vol. 51 Iss: 8/9, pp.624 – 634

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore significant historical changes, legislation and policy in the UK and USA from the 1960s to present day relating to university-industry relationships.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents a review of papers, reports and policy documents from the UK and USA drawing comparisons of university-industry relations.

Findings – The paper finds that many UK and USA universities were originally rooted in their communities with strong links to local industries. This culture has persisted and been strengthened through legislation in the USA but changes in UK policy have resulted in reduced industry links.

Research limitations/implications – The paper draws on secondary sources. Future research will explore more directly effects of changes in UK universities on university-industry interactions.

Practical implications – In recent years there has been an increasing UK government focus on university-industry links. The paper seeks to show that the success of technology transfer in the USA has deeper contextual sources, which may not be easily reproduced in the UK. The history and culture of UK universities presents a barrier to current knowledge transfer initiatives.

Originality/value – Technology transfer in the UK and USA have been compared previously, but not set in the context of the history of the university sector. This has implications for current policy initiatives from UK government agencies seeking to develop university technology as a source of innovation for industry.

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