The Price of Progress: Are Universities Adding to the Cost?

79 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2006


Universities have a reputation for being isolated ivory towers, but that is changing as universities become large-scale technology owners. As a result, universities today interface more actively with industry. At the same time, they take a strong role in affirmatively influencing the path of innovation in the United States and globally. Consequently, universities wield enormous power in the controversial economics of intellectual property. This article questions whether that position is a proper one for universities, whether it is abused, and whether universities are directing their power and money to the best interests of the public, examining for example why both tuition and pharmaceutical costs are so high and why America's research position is falling behind.

Twenty-five years ago, Congress quietly passed the Bayh-Dole Act, with the simple objective of standardizing the rules regarding ownership of patents on inventions created using federal- research funds. Patents are considered to be the price of progress, a subject of raging debate amongst scholars in the intellectual-property community. One phenomenon that has been largely absent from that debate, however, is that as a result of the Bayh-Dole Act, universities are actually adding to the cost. Examining both the origins of the Bayh-Dole Act, and its reality 25 years later, this article undertakes a critical analysis of the Act's intent and implementation and offers a proposal for a more fair system.

Keywords: intellectual property, patent, technology transfer

Suggested Citation

Ritchie de Larena, Lorelei, The Price of Progress: Are Universities Adding to the Cost?. Houston Law Review, Vol. 44, 2006. Available at SSRN:

Lorelei Ritchie de Larena (Contact Author)

Florida State University ( email )

Tallahasse, FL 32306
United States

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