South Africa Considers Potentially Requiring Patents On Publicly Funded Research

from the say-what-now? dept

I missed this story from a few weeks ago, but one of our readers, going by the name of bikey, alerts us to a proposal in South Africa, that would potentially require patents on certain publicly funded research. While this seems totally backwards for any number of reasons (and many of us believe that publicly funded research should be available to the public since they paid for it), apparently some are concerned that "foreign multinationals" might "misappropriate" the research. So, even if a university and the researcher choose not to protect the research results with IP, if a government body determines that the results could have commercial viability, it would have the ability to control the rights. Amusingly, those supporting this proposal claim it will help "facilitate tech transfer." Actually, it does the opposite, because it puts limits and a tollbooth in the way -- but why let that get in the way.

The article notes (phew) that there's significant opposition to the proposal -- especially from researchers who are greatly troubled by the fact that researchers may have no say in whether or not their research is "protected," and how it may do serious harm to "open" research initiatives and idea sharing -- which, by the way, have been shown to increase the pace of innovation. The article also does a good job highlighting how the focus on patenting university research in the US has done more harm than good, by decreasing openness, slowing down the pace of innovation and causing universities to spend tons of money on "tech transfer offices" that get too focused on trying to lock up every idea a professor has. All in all, this proposal sounds dreadful. Who would support it? Well, at the end of the article, they indicate Microsoft is a big fan. Anyway, since the article is from a few weeks ago, it would be great to know if there's been any update on this. Anyone have any info on whether this proposal is going anywhere?
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Filed Under: patents, research, south africa


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2009 @ 11:38pm

    I love the idea of seeing the leeches worry about their "blood supply".


    I think it is quite interesting that "Not For Profit" Universities and their associated researchers feel they are entitled to patents.

    If "Universities" paid for taxes, such as property taxes for fire, police, etc, Income tax, etc then maybe. But when the government puts a gun to my head, says "give us your money" so we can give it some some dumb fuck professor that wants tenure instead of "real job" on the off chance he or the university might get rich off some research that I funded is BS.

    Stanford, Havard, MIT, and their professors want it both ways. They have no risk, but all the rewards. Private companies have all the risks and limited rewards (based on patent life time.. 10% of a copyright.)

    I have no problem that if a government funds something it belongs to the people that "funded it". I have a real problem with leeching "Non-profit", "governement funding" institutions owning anything THEY didn't invest in.

    When will people understand that "Government Agencies" that give out extortion money are:

    1. Wasting 80% of the money they give out because no rational institutional would do it. (Including Universities that have HUGE investment funds.. Billions)

    2. If the individuals that worked in the government had insight, they would be working in private enterprise that would pay them 10 times their governement salary if they knew WTF they were doing.

    If Uni. Researcher want to do research, God Bless them, but that should NOT be a free ticket for them getting a tax free, limited edition Lotto ticket. Want fame, go work tax free, tenured, no obligation to produce, Want fortune, then invest your own f**** money or work in the real world. But God Damn-it, Stop putting a gun to my head, taking my money (most likey wasting it) so you MIGHT have a .000000001% chance at both ,instead of me enjoying what I of what I earned. If I should invest in it, then I should get some sort of ROI. .. and don't give me some BS about the "World being a better place".. Sanford, MIT and Havard don't give a care.. it is all about their campus.

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