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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed technology transfer and royalty sharing issues within the scientific research community, focusing on whether proposed legislation would: (1) increase scientists' interest in patenting inventions; (2) motivate laboratories to encourage invention reporting; (3) affect intellectual property assignment; and (4) resolve impediments to patenting inventions. GAO noted that: (1) royalty-sharing programs at federal laboratories have had little impact on scientists' interest in patenting inventions due to limited financial rewards; (2) many inventors believe that their inventions would not be licensed or commercially successful enough to produce royalties and that royalty sharing would increase if monetary rewards are increased; (3) the proposed legislation would increase inventors' incentives to seek patents by providing inventors with minimum royalties and additional royalties for research and development expenses; (4) laboratories have not used their share of invention income to benefit potential inventors; (5) the proposed legislation would increase the amount of invention income that laboratory directors could use to support invention reporting and technology transfer activities by limiting certain administrative expenses; (6) the effect of the proposed legislation on how intellectual property is assigned between collaborating parties could not be determined; and (7) the proposed legislation does not address procedural impediments to royalty sharing.

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