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Archived updates for Thursday, November 10, 2005

AAAS Surveys Effects of Patenting on Science

In early 2005, the Science & Intellectual Property in the Public Interest (SIPPI) project at
the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conducted a survey
to help
determine the effects patenting has had on research conducted by academia, industry,
non-profit organizations and government in a range of scientific fields. Here are some of the results from the 1,111 AAAS members who responded to the survey:
  • 24% of respondents conducting or managing research or specializing in
    intellectual property reported acquiring a patented technology for use in their research
    since January 2001.
  • For those attempting to acquire intellectual property, the greatest overall proportion of
    respondents reported acquiring their last patented technology through the use of a
    material transfer agreement (MTA).
  • A total of 40% of respondents who had acquired patented technologies since 2001 reported difficulties in obtaining that technology. Bioscience respondents working in industry reported the most problems, with 76% of those reporting that their research had been affected by these difficulties. By contrast, only 35% of university-based bioscience
    respondents reported difficulties that affected their research.
  • Of the 40% of respondents who reported their work had been affected, 58% said their
    work was delayed, 50% reported they had to change the research, and 28% reported
    abandoning their research project. The most common reason respondents reported
    having to change or abandon their research project was that the acquisition of the
    necessary technologies involved overly complex licensing negotiations.
  • Overall, 46% of respondents reported that they had made a discovery or created a
    technology they considered eligible for some form of intellectual property protection
    since 2001. Within every scientific field, a higher proportion of respondents from
    industry reported creating IP than respondents from academia. The scientific fields with
    the highest proportions of respondents creating IP were math and computer science
    (77%) and engineering (69%).
The authors conclude that
"Overall, the study suggests that academia has been less affected than industry by more restrictive and formal licensing practices in the acquisition of necessary patented technologies for research. Difficulties reported by industry respondents in attempting to access patented technologies outnumbered those of academic respondents by a ratio of more than 2:1. This may be due to the fact that industry respondents reported creating and holding more intellectual property than academic respondents, as well as the fact that industry relies more on licensing, which entails more and longer negotiations than other more traditional and informal forms of technology transfer still used within academia."
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