Learning to Patent: Institutional Experience, Learning, and the Characteristics of University Patents after Bayh-Dole, 1980-1994
Management Science, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 73-89, 2002
Posted: 13 Dec 2006
Links between R&D in U.S. industry and research in U.S. universities have a long history, but recent developments in this relationship, especially the growth in university patenting and licensing of technologies to private firms, have attracted considerable attention. The effects of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 on U.S. research universities have been the focus of several empirical studies. This paper examines "university learning" in greater detail, seeking to understand whether and why the importance (based on citations to these patents) of the post-1980 patents issuing to less experienced academic patenters has improved during the 1980s and 1990s. Our results indicate that the importance of entrant institutions' patents improved during the 1980s and 1990s, closing the gap with incumbents during a period in which the average importance of overall academic patents improved relative to nonacademic patents. We find little evidence of strong "learning curve" effects, as neither cumulative patenting nor the (relatively) early establishment of a technology transfer office explain these improvements. Links with the Research Corporation during the "pre-Bayh-Dole" era also exercise little influence over changes during the 1980s and 1990s in these characteristics of incumbent or entrant institutions' patents. Inasmuch as these observable sources of learning exercise little influence, we conclude that a broader process of learning based on spillovers among universities may account for the convergence in importance between the patents of incumbent and entrant universities.
Keywords: Patents, Universities, Technology Transfer, Learning
JEL Classification: O3
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