US Faculty Patenting: Inside and Outside the University
This paper examines the empirical anomaly that in a sample of 5811 patents on which US faculty are listed as inventors, 26% of the patents are assigned solely to firms rather than to the faculty member's university as is dictated by US university employment policies or the Bayh Dole Act. In this paper we estimate a series of probability models of assignment as a function of patent characteristics, university policy, and inventor fields in order to examine the extent to which outside assignment is nefarious or comes from legitimate activities, such as consulting. Patents assigned to firms (whether established or start-ups with inventor as principal) are less basic than those assigned to universities suggesting these patents result from faculty consulting. A higher inventor share increases the likelihood of university assignment as compared with assignment to a firm in which the inventor is a principal but it has no effect on consulting with established firms versus assignment to the university. Faculty in the physical sciences and engineering are more likely to assign their patents to established firms than those in biological sciences.
The authors gratefully acknowledge research support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Fuller acknowledges support from the Alan and Mildred Peterson Foundation, and M. Thursby acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation. Participants of seminars at University College London, London Business School, the 2006 Technology Transfer Society meeting and 2006 Roundtable on Engineering Entrepreneurship Research at Georgia Institute of Technology provided useful comments. We thank Bhaven Sampat for providing access to his patent database. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Thursby, Jerry & Fuller, Anne W. & Thursby, Marie, 2009. "US faculty patenting: Inside and outside the university," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 14-25, February. citation courtesy of