The Role and Impact of Universities in National Innovation Systems
Edited by Poh Kam Wong
Chapter 4: Academic Patenting in Japan: Illustration from a Leading Japanese University
Makiko Takahashi and René Carraz* 4.1 INTRODUCTION Recent work on universities has led many scholars to investigate the incentives behind academic patenting. This stream of literature began with the enactment of the Bayh-Dole Patent and Trademark Amendments Act of 1980, which allowed American universities to receive patents and grant licenses from research funded by the federal government. Patent grants to American universities peaked in 2002 at just under 3300, compared to 300 in the 1970s. The biomedical-related patent classes dominate these awards (National Science Board 2008). Most observers attribute this tendency to the legislative change, but it is worth noting that the trend preceded the Act: based on case studies Colyvas et al. (2002) argue that two other factors could explain the surge. First, the period saw the rise of important new areas of university research, namely, molecular biology and computer science, both of which are of particular interest to industry. Second, over the same time, various Patent Offices increased the range of research results that were patentable. In their view, these two elements were leading the increase in patenting and licensing, the principal effect of the Act being to accelerate these trends. The increasing reliance on patenting has raised many questions in the literature. The enthusiasts spoke with emphasis of the increasing role of universities in economic development. The ‘Triple Helix’ concept (Etzkowitz 2003) sees patenting by universities as an indicator of their involvement in commercialization activities, beyond the traditional role of research and teaching. In the same vein,...
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