Scientific knowledge has characteristics of a pure public good. It is non-rivalrous in the sense that once generated, it is neither depleted nor diminished by use. Knowledge is also non-excludable since, once it is made available, in the absence of clearly defined property rights, users cannot be excluded from using it. These aspects imply that private market mechanisms will not provide adequate incentives for knowledge creation. Legal property rights, such as patents, are one means of dealing with this problem. Patronage in the form of government support for research provides another solution, as does the priority system of awarding credit for scientific discoveries to the first to find them. In the last two decades, there has been a growth in the relative importance of the use of legal property rights in the university setting and with it a growing controversy as to whether the costs may be outweighing the benefits. In this chapter, we discuss issues and evidence with regard to the ownership and licensing of publicly funded research intellectual property rights (IPR). We begin with an overview of incentives created by the patent system and discuss the ways in which these incentives differ from traditional norms of science. We then draw on the legal and economic literatures which distinguish among the incentives to invent, disclose, and innovate, and argue that the rationale for providing IPR for university research stems from the last of these. Finally, we discuss the available evidence on the creation and diffusion of academic research under current IPR regimes.
Thursby, J. and Thursby, M. (2007), "Chapter 6 Knowledge Creation and Diffusion of Public Science with Intellectual Property Rights", Maskus, K.E. (Ed.) Intellectual Property, Growth and Trade (Frontiers of Economics and Globalization, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 199-232. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1574-8715(07)00006-1Download as .RIS
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