Friday, November 11, 2005

Is the patent system impeding plans of researchers?

Of --. Slashdot is pointing to a new survey of scientific researchers, who note that 40% note that their work was impacted negatively because of patents. Of those 40%: "58% said their work was delayed, 50% reported they had to change the research, and 28% reported abandoning their research project." --

one notes that in an earlier survey of a cross-section of biologists, mathematicians, and physicists, Walsh and Hong noted that willingness to talk about research had gone from 50% in 1966 to 26% in 1998. The patent system, by granting rights in inventions which are disclosed, promotes discussion. Competition among academics, related or unrelated to industrial affiliation, does not promote discussion.

Of the SIPPI study :

Early in 2005, SIPPI undertook a survey of about 1,100 AAAS members to determine what effects patenting, if any, has had on research conducted by scientists in academia, industry, government, and nonprofit organizations. Among its results, the survey found that by a suprising 2:1 margin, industry scientists reported having more difficulty in accessing patented technologies than academic scientists. However, this could be the result of the greater volume of intellectual property created by industry, as well as industry's heavy reliance on licensing—a process more sophisticated and time-consuming than the means used in academia for technology transfer.

The executive summary of the report by Stephen Hansen, Jana Asher, and Amanda Brewster noted that only 24% of the about 1,100 reported acquiring a patented technology since June 2001. The most predominant mechanism was through a materials transfer agreement (MTA), presumably because the respondents were more academic. For the industrial contingent, the dominant mechanism was through non-exclusive licensing. Non-exclusive licensing proceeded faster than MTAs, with exclusive licensing the slowest.

Consistent with the Walsh/Hong research, the top reason for academics not disseminating their research was because they wanted to conduct more research.

A total of 16% of all respondents reported that their work had been affected by attempts to acquire IP. A total of 40% of the respondents who had acquired IP (which was 24% of the about 1,100) reported difficulties; this would seem to be 9.6% of the 1,000. Bioscience was the key area of problems.


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