Nathan Myhrvold Now Capitalizing On Failed University Patent Intitiatives
from the privatizing-publicly-funded-research dept
We’ve discussed, in the past, the infamous Bayh-Dole Act, which tried to push universities to patent more of their research, with the idea that it would make research more commercializable. In fact, the unintended consequences were to significantly harm university research. Universities quickly set up “technology transfer” offices, with the idea of selling off patents for tons of money, but the vast majority of universities discovered that such technology transfer offices cost a lot more than they made, and so they were a drain on university resources (you know, which could have gone to basic research). On top of that, the new focus on patenting everything caused researchers to be much more afraid to share ideas and concepts with colleagues, greatly diminishing the value of research or the ability of researchers to explore other areas where colleagues might have already applied for patents, for fear of “infringing.”
However, it looks like Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures, which we’ve discussed at length, in the past, is looking to take advantage of this situation. With so many university technology transfer offices losing money, IV has been going around and signing deals with universities. Basically, IV gives those tech transfer offices some money upfront, allowing IV to effectively add each university’s patent pool to its own portfolio that it uses to go around demanding hundreds of millions of dollars from companies to “protect” them against any future lawsuits.
Effectively, the end result is less actual research being done at universities, while some guys who don’t actually build anything get rich. And, oh yeah, the companies that actually do stuff are poorer. Doesn’t something seem highly suspect about this scenario?