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Catalina Martinez (CSIC Madrid)

March 12 @ 13:00


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March 12
Event Category:
Academic Events

“The abolishment of the professor’s privilege: impact on European university patents”

Intellectual property regimes governing university inventions were quite diverse in Europe at the end of the 1990s. Several European countries maintained the so-called professor’s privilege, an exception to employment law whereby university researchers were allowed to retain the ownership of inventions developed in their institutions. The 2000s were characterised by convergence towards a more homogeneous system, in which university administrations took control of intellectual property (hereafter IP) management; this was inspired by the changes introduced by the Bayh-Dole Act in the United States in 1980. We exploit the heterogeneity characterising university IP regimes within and across European countries over time, to investigate whether changes in the IP regime for university inventions in some countries affected the technological importance and value of the patents for inventions disclosed to university administrations, relative to other patents. Our study produces some new results that may alert policymakers to the possible negative consequences of the predominance of the university ownership model. We observe a decline in the average technological importance of inventions and a decline in value for the patents owned by universities in the countries abolishing the professor’s privilege in those years. The results for patent value are robust to the inclusion of technological importance as a determinant of patent value, suggesting that the lower value of university patents could be due, at least in part, to inefficient IP exploitation from technology transfer offices (TTOs) managers and university administrators.