Time to rethink intellectual property laws?

“The speed of the global economic collapse is provoking a widespread – many would say belated – realisation that many of the beliefs underlying economic expansion over the past 20 years need close questioning, particularly those involving the relationship between the state and the market …. Take, for example, the aura that surrounds the 1980s US Bayh-Dole Act, which gave US universities, for the first time, ownership of patents arising from government-funded research. There is a widely-held belief this helped the US economy’s explosive growth in the following two decades, making many universities – and the scientists who work for them – rich in the process. Those with interests in the commercial rather than the social value of science, actively promote this view. This conviction, for example, has led South Africa to introduce similar legislation … Yet there is very little empirical evidence to show that the Bayh-Dole Act has had the claimed effect in the United States, let alone that it is appropriate for developing countries …” (more)

[David Dickson, University World News, 8 February]

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