Universities as a Source of Commercial Technology: A Detailed Analysis of University Patenting, 1965-1988

Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by Adam B. Jaffe

Adam B. Jaffe

Brandeis University; Motu Economic and Public Policy Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Manuel Trajtenberg

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: 1998

Abstract

Between 1965 and 1992 university patenting increased 1500%, while all patenting increased less than 50% and patents granted to US citizens remained constant. Because universities are dedicated to the principle of knowledge dissemination, knowledge transfer to the private sector is probable. Federal legislation in 1980 and 1984 facilitated universities' retention of rights to patents resulting from federally-funded research; because competition for federal funding has increased, much university research has sought alternative funding and universities have also created institutional technology offices. At first it appears that legislative and institutional changes have had significant effects on the way in which university-generated knowledge is transferred to the private sector. The evidence indicates, however, that the Bayh-Dole Act and other changes in federal law have not engendered significant changes in the underlying rate of the university generation of commercially important inventions. Statistics from a database of all patents assigned to universities and related institutions between 1965 and mid-1992, a 1% random sample of all US patents granted during the same time period, and the complete set of all patents that cite either of these groups are mobilized. They indicate that rather than an increase in the number of ‘important' inventions from universities, the observed increase in university patenting evinces a ‘propensity to patent,' with a possible concomitant increase of knowledge transfer to the private sector. (RAS)

Keywords: Commercialization, University-industry-government relations, Knowledge transfer, Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, Patent productivity, Colleges & universities, Patents, Technology transfer, Federal legislation

Suggested Citation

Jaffe, Adam B. and Trajtenberg, Manuel, Universities as a Source of Commercial Technology: A Detailed Analysis of University Patenting, 1965-1988 (1998). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1506353

Adam B. Jaffe

Brandeis University ( email )

Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States
781-736-2251 (Phone)
781-736-2263 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.brandeis.edu/global/people/faculty/jaff

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research ( email )

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P.O. Box 24390
Wellington, 6142
New Zealand

HOME PAGE: http://motu.org.nz

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Manuel Trajtenberg

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 39040
Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978
Israel
+972 3640 9911 (Phone)
+972 3640 9908 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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