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

See all articles by David C. Mowery

David C. Mowery

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Bhaven N. Sampat

Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health

Arvids A. Ziedonis

KU Leuven - Faculty of Economics and Business; Department of Management, Strategy, and Innovation

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Mowery, David C. and Sampat, Bhaven N. and Ziedonis, Arvids Alexander, Learning to Patent: Institutional Experience, Learning, and the Characteristics of University Patents after Bayh-Dole, 1980-1994. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=951347

David C. Mowery

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Bhaven N. Sampat

Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health ( email )

600 West 168th St. 6th Floor
New York, NY 10032
United States

Arvids Alexander Ziedonis (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Faculty of Economics and Business; Department of Management, Strategy, and Innovation ( email )

Warmoesberg 26
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

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