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Patents and academic research: a state of the art

Patents and academic research: a state of the art Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to look at the sharp increase in academic patenting over the past 20 years and to raise important issues regarding the generation and diffusion of academic knowledge. Three key questions may be raised in this respect: What is behind the surge in academic patenting? Does patenting affect the quality and quantity of universities' scientific output? Does the patent system limit the freedom to perform academic research? The present paper seeks to summarize the existing literature on these issues. Design/methodology/approach – The paper's approach is a review of the recent literature on academic patenting and research use of patented inventions, complemented with critical viewpoints and new data on academic patenting in Europe. Findings – The evidence suggests that academic patenting has only limited effects on the direction, pace and quality of research. A virtuous cycle seems to characterise the patent‐publication relationship. Secondly, scientific anti‐commons show very little effects on academic researchers so far, limited to a few countries with weak or no research exemption regulations. In summary, the evidence leads the authors to conclude that the benefits of academic patenting on research exceed their potential negative effects. Originality/value – The paper offers a critical overview of the available evidence on the links between patents and academic research, which may be useful both for individuals unfamiliar with this issue or for those experienced in the field who are looking for a state of the art discussion on recent debates. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Intellectual Capital Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1469-1930
DOI
10.1108/14691930810870328
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to look at the sharp increase in academic patenting over the past 20 years and to raise important issues regarding the generation and diffusion of academic knowledge. Three key questions may be raised in this respect: What is behind the surge in academic patenting? Does patenting affect the quality and quantity of universities' scientific output? Does the patent system limit the freedom to perform academic research? The present paper seeks to summarize the existing literature on these issues. Design/methodology/approach – The paper's approach is a review of the recent literature on academic patenting and research use of patented inventions, complemented with critical viewpoints and new data on academic patenting in Europe. Findings – The evidence suggests that academic patenting has only limited effects on the direction, pace and quality of research. A virtuous cycle seems to characterise the patent‐publication relationship. Secondly, scientific anti‐commons show very little effects on academic researchers so far, limited to a few countries with weak or no research exemption regulations. In summary, the evidence leads the authors to conclude that the benefits of academic patenting on research exceed their potential negative effects. Originality/value – The paper offers a critical overview of the available evidence on the links between patents and academic research, which may be useful both for individuals unfamiliar with this issue or for those experienced in the field who are looking for a state of the art discussion on recent debates.

Journal

Journal of Intellectual CapitalEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 18, 2008

Keywords: Patents; Research; Modern history; Universities

References