Patent Policy:

Universities' Research Efforts Under Public Law 96-517

RCED-86-93: Published: Apr 4, 1986. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO obtained information on universities' experiences under the Patent and Trademark Amendments of 1980, specifically the: (1) law's perceived impact on universities that are involved in patent activities; (2) number of inventions universities have disclosed since the law's passage; and (3) universities' marketing methods.

GAO found that 17 of the 19 universities interviewed felt that, although it was too early to measure the law's effect on their research and development activities, it has caused some positive results: (1) they can enter into licensing agreements with private companies more easily; (2) private companies and university representatives collaborate more; (3) inventors are more interested in inventions and technology transfer taking place at the university level; and (4) federal agencies' regulations are more uniform, requiring less paperwork. GAO also found that: (1) there is no clear trend in the nature and scope of universities' patent activities since the law's passage; (2) universities did not routinely maintain records of inventions disclosed under federally funded research before the law was passed; (3) universities generally market inventions through licensing arrangements with private companies; (4) 18 of the 19 universities, as a practice, file patent applications for nearly all licensed inventions; and (5) universities rely primarily on patent management firms to market their inventions.

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