Big Tech Companies Funding University Research Labs... Only If They Promise To Open Source The Results

from the kinda-backwards dept

The state of universities and intellectual property is pretty messy these days. Thanks to the screwed up Bayh-Dole law, many universities feel (wrongly) compelled to patent the research that they produce. This generally goes against their basic charters of sharing the knowledge that they create. It's also not very profitable. Only a small handful of universities have been able to make money off of patents. Most have lost a ton of money, setting up expensive tech transfer offices that don't return a dime.

However, in an interesting twist (pointed out by Glyn Moody), it appears that a variety of big tech companies, including Intel, HP and IBM, are now funding research centers on the condition that they open source anything that comes out of them.

Think about that for a second. These institutions of learning, who for decades have been built on education and sharing knowledge, want to lock up ideas. And the private companies, who are more commonly associated with trying to lock up proprietary information, are encouraging greater openness and sharing. That, alone, should show you just how screwed up our patent system is today.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 10:49pm

    When the US army declares that the lack of manufacturing capabilities is a threat to national security and it wants to create a crowdsourced(aka open source) fab base in the US to keep the nation safe you know something is wrong, very wrong.

     

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      Jose_X, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 3:59am

      Open trade secrets

      That is where I'm putting my money! Seriously.

      I also think taxes should largely be voluntary (minus some fraction in the 10 - 20 % range of what you would otherwise owe) if you allow all your assets, significant contracts, income, etc, during the year to be made public information at tax time. This transparency would allow the public to be better shoppers and help preserve self-regulation and fair playing fields instead of what we have now.

       

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      Hephaestus (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 9:03am

      Re:

      "and it wants to create a crowdsourced(aka open source) fab base in the US"

      Do you have a link??

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 11:12pm

    "a variety of big tech companies, including Intel, HP and IBM, are now funding research centers on the condition that they open source anything that comes out of them. "

    But ... but ... but ... Impossible!!!

    Without patents, how can the private sector ever fund anything?

     

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    freak (profile), Sep 15th, 2011 @ 3:29am

    It's software, that's only common practice.

     

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    Jose_X, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 4:09am

    I Will Hand Over My IP For Exploitation When They Peel My Cold Dead Fingers From Around It.

    A major reason I have not worked in IT (eg, developing software), even part time, has been that I refuse to hand over IP rights to contribute to some firms' patent, copyright, or trade secret arsenal.

    [This isn't to say that no open source opportunities exist.]

    So this is welcomed news.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 6:38am

    Universities and their staff has spend decades locking up their results, either in direct patents and copyrights, or by the professors opening companies that hold the patents for the commercial side.

    Did you just wake up to that?

    Heck, your alma mater seems to have paid for at least part of your education on the back of patents and licensing:

    http://www.cctec.cornell.edu/technology/patents/

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    These institutions of learning... want to lock up ideas. And the private companies... are encouraging greater openness and sharing.

    ... cats and dogs living together! Mass Hysteria!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    UWaterloo has the best system for handling IP out of any university I've seen.

     

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