The Growth of Patenting and Licensing by U.S. Universities: An Assessment of the Effects of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980

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)

Richard R. Nelson

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

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

Growth during the 1980s and 1990s in patenting and licensing by American universities is frequently asserted to be a direct consequence of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. However, there has been little empirical analysis of the effects of this legislation. This paper uses previously unexploited data to consider the effects of Bayh-Dole at three leading universities: the University of California, Stanford University, and Columbia University. Two of these universities (California and Stanford) were active in patenting and licensing before Bayh-Dole, and one (Columbia) became active only after its passage. The evidence suggests that Bayh-Dole was only one of several important factors behind the rise of university patenting and licensing activity. Bayh-Dole also appears to have had little effect on the content of academic research at these universities. A comparison of these three universities reveals remarkable similarities in their patent and licensing portfolios 10 years after the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act. The concluding section raises several questions about the effects of Bayh-Dole and related policy shifts that are not addressed by this analysis but that deserve attention in future research.

Keywords: Bayh-Dole Act, University Research, Technology Transfer, Patenting, Licensing

JEL Classification: O3

Suggested Citation

Mowery, David C. and Nelson, Richard R. and Sampat, Bhaven N. and Ziedonis, Arvids Alexander, The Growth of Patenting and Licensing by U.S. Universities: An Assessment of the Effects of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. Research Policy, Vol. 30, pp. 99-119, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=951349

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

Richard R. Nelson

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
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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