In the U.S., patent rights from federally-funded grants to university researchers generally go to the universities. Sometimes, the research professors benefit personally, depending on the school. This situation results from the Bahy-Dole Act of 1980. Most observers regard this act as an improvement over what came before, but it’s not clear that it is the best solution to the question of how to maximize public benefit from patents resulting from public funding of research.
Malaysia is taking a different approach. From a story at Bernama, the Malaysian National News Agency:
“To keep abreast with the latest technology trend, a National Nanotechnology Centre will be set up under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Jamaludin Mohd Jarjis said Tuesday…
“Jamaludin also touched on the intellectual property (IP) issue, saying research work undertaken with government grants should be jointly owned by the Government, the respective university as well as the scientists involved.
” ‘We will find the best model for the country on how this IP rights (in terms of percentage) should be shared among the three parties involved in research work,’ he said.”
Of course, it’s possible that having the government retain part of the rights will only slow down commercialization and delay the main public benefit from each nanotech advance, which is the use of the actual technology by the public, not patent royalties. What we need is a study comparing how these rights are assigned across many nations, and seeing which ways have worked best. Anyone know of such a study? Or want to fund one? Admittedly, it would be difficult to do well, since so many other factors vary among countries as well… —Christine