Perspectives from Intellectual Property, Labour, Competition and Corporate Law
Edited by Marilyn Pittard, Ann L. Monotti and John Duns
Chapter 4: Double or nothing: technology transfer under the Bayh-Dole Act
The United States is fascinated with technology. Prior to the Tea Party (the first one), the colonies angered England by engaging in rampant technological piracy. Thomas Jefferson was an inventor and took a personal interest in the patent system. Many scientific institutions were established in the first century of the nation’s existence – the Smithsonian Institute and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1850; the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Agriculture, in 1862. In 1862 and 1890, the Morrill Acts gave birth to the land-grant college system, which focused on innovation in agriculture, science, and engineering. To many Americans, it was technology – advances in aviation, radar, encryption, medicine, and nuclear energy – that won the Great Wars. Indeed, during World War II, President Roosevelt asked Vannevar Bush, his science advisor, to create a technology plan for the post-war period. The strategy Bush developed was centered on a linear theory of innovation in which development was perceived as moving from ‘upstream’ discovery of fundamental insights to their ‘downstream’ commercial application. In Bush’s view, upstream research – basic science – was too far removed from application to be an attractive target for commercial investment. At the same time, however, he saw this work as the wellspring from which multiple technological prospects flow. To assure continuing support for basic science, he recommended – and the U.S. Government pursued – a mixed program of intramural research within Government laboratories and Government funding of extramural research in universities and other nonprofit organizations.
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