The Great American Science Heist

“Rickover railed against the proposed policy changes. “Government contractors should not be given title to inventions developed at government expense,” he said. “These inventions are paid for by the public and therefore should be available for any citizen to use or not as he sees fit.”

This seemed self-evident to Rickover. After all, he noted, “companies generally claim title to the inventions of their employees on the basis that the company pays their wages.” It befuddled and angered him that the U.S. government would consider giving up its own shop rights to industries that would never do the same. …

In the summer of 1979, the latest such bill was entering its sixth month of hearings on the merits of pulling the Kennedy policy inside-out. Sponsored by Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., it would shift the burden onto government to prove that its ownership of a patent better served the public than a private monopoly, rather than the other way around. The bill was considered a long shot to get past the dens of liberal lions in the Senate and President Jimmy Carter, but it was gaining traction among Democrats.

As the bill’s chances of passage grew, Rickover stepped up his warnings to lawmakers not to fall for “the age-old arguments of the patent lobby” and pass legislation that “promotes greater concentration of economic power [and] impedes the development and dissemination of technology.” …”

It’s time to eliminate patents in universities | by Bruce Caron | Aug, 2020 | Medium

“In researching the forty years of allowing publicly funded primary research results to be patented in the US, what becomes clear is that for every success story there are scores of negative outcomes. The bureaucracy that universities build to capture the “value” of research as patents (Welpe et al. 2015), the administrative burden on researchers to conform their work to the process of patent-making (Stodden 2014; Graeber 2019), the perverse career pressure to produce more patents (Edwards and Roy 2017), the downstream roadblocks for sharing the research (NAS 2018): the entire ecosystem (or egosystem) of doing patents argues against their benefits to the academy. The underlying tension between the university’s long-term mission as a wellspring of new public knowledge and the market’s desire to acquire and privatize new discoveries remains at issue here (Foray and Lissoni 2010)….

The actual returns on research are mostly “postmarket” in value. Open sharing accelerates returns in the near term and compounds research value over time. Universities achieve their value proposition through a broad range of research and educational activities. The availability of market returns from patents for a small segment of university research threatens to warp the research opportunity landscape, and the normative internal incentives (including curiosity) for research (Strandberg 2005)….

Open science looks ahead to a future where the capacity to share research findings is optimized through scholarly commons, collaboratives that steward research goods through the decades, and across the planet (See: Scholarly commons; Also, Madison et al. 2009). Patents subtract intellectual property and value from these commons: “[T]o the extent that universities surround the work of their scientists with thickets of patents, the upshot can be what Heller and Eisenberg [1998] call a scientific ‘anticommons’ in which ideas and concepts that in the public domain might spur discovery and innovation are zealously guarded by the institutional owners who value income more than innovation” (Ginsberg 2011). Researchers may also shy away from research arenas where existing patents impede new research (Foray and Lissoni 2010)….

In the US, the repeal of Bayh-Dole — the act that permitted universities to patent federally-funded research — would open up old (and now, new), long-term research sharing capacities …”