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University IP

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:20 am
by Tom9963
This topic came up in another thread, but I think it makes sense to avoid hijacking that thread with these ideas.

The following quote from Eric intrigued me:
\"Finally, we should revisit the whole issue of \"spin-off\" ventures born out of federally-funded academic research and determine whether universities and individual researchers really have intellectual property rights to materials and methods developed with public research dollars.\"

The president of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) made a similar argument in a recently released 2 page white paper. http://www.rit.edu/president/Business_Academia.pdf
(For those unaware, RIT is a technology application oriented university offering primarily BS and MS degrees. All engineering students are required to Co-Op. On a scale of Industry versus NSF funding, RIT is found very far towards the industry side - this will give you better context for their president\'s message)

I think I sit on the other side of the argument most of the time. Most of the money that is brought in through licensing revenue is spent in the non-profit university to better student programs and assist in research. At the university where I am receiving my PhD, it is believed that much of the financial backing to establish the biomedical engineering dept was through IP licensing revenue and the Whittaker foundation. So is IP revenue really so bad?

I think the better question is, do university TT offices foster the development of products or companies with the IP that they are protecting. If the answer is No, then it would be better if it was free domain or domain of the government to license. I think this mostly sorts itself out in the fact that universities with strong TT offices that generate patents are also good at converting them to something useful for the country. Those that are poor at this conversion are also probably poor at patenting the IP in the first place. When there is a disconnect between these two points is when we have a problem, because the IP is essentially locked away.

Thoughts?