University Patents Cut to Size? Balancing Public and Private Good (Universitaire octrooien op maat? Naar een evenwicht tussen publieke opdracht en privaat goed) (Dutch)
TUSSEN MARKT EN AGORA: OVER HET STATUUT AN UNIVERSITAIRE KENNIS, pp. 181-214, B. Pattyn & G. Van Overwalle, eds. Peeters, 2006
17 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2010 Last revised: 19 Dec 2010
Date Written: 2006
Information and knowledge form the very basis of scientific progress. Access to information and disclosure of research results are key to the advancement of a knowledge economy. Current academic knowledge development, however, is characterized by two tendencies which may form a threat to further knowledge creation: increasing privatisation of knowledge, on the one hand, and growing expansion of intellectual property protection regimes, on the other hand.
The present paper explores both tendencies, and reflects on the status of academic knowledge and the role of university patents in this delicate debate.
We kick off by elucidating and explaining some frequently used concepts (part 2). Then we will focus on the question whether knowledge emanating from universities can be privatized by way of patents, i.e. we will be looking at the legitimacy and acceptability of present appropriation practices (part 3). As the trend towards privatization at universities seems to be unstoppable, we will not dwell long on this question but move on to two moot points: (a) what is the impact on the public domain of the increased privatization of knowledge emanating from universities, and (b) how can universities uphold the public domain and how can they promote open access in a context of growing privatization?
Despite our being engrossed - albeit only for a short while - in the problematic issues related to the acquiring of patents by universities ('the existence of patents' - part 4), we will mainly focus on the problems arising out of the use of patent rights ('the exercise of patent rights' - part 5). This focus derives from the fact that although the Flemish legislator encourages patents in many ways, there are relatively few standards and criteria as to how those rights, once acquired, can and should be exercised. So, there is an enormous field of unexplored territory for policymaking to give shape to fair, reasonable and ethical patent behavior.
Note: Downloadable document is in Dutch.
Keywords: Patents, Open science, Access to knowledge, Public good, Ethos of sharing, Gift economy
JEL Classification: D23, D45, H 41, H51, I18, K11, L14, L 65, O31, O32, O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation