Joe Allen is the President of Joseph Allen & Associates, and is a Featured Contributor on IPWatchdog.com, and a 30-year veteran of national efforts to foster public/private sector commercialization partnerships, and author of numerous articles on technology management for national publications.
Joe served as a Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee with former Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN), and was instrumental in working behind the scenes to ensure passage of the historic Bayh-Dole Act. He is our resident Bayh-Dole expert, and will write frequently about Bayh-Dole and issues surrounding the commercialization of university research.
In 2008, Joe founded Allen & Associates, through which he offers consulting services assisting clients in technology transfer issues, including developing effective communication strategies with national policy makers.
How about some good economic news? That’s in short supply these days as the nation teeters on the brink of recession, driven by raging inflation and skyrocketing gas prices. But in good times and bad, our technology transfer system created by the Bayh-Dole Act just keeps chugging along. A just released study by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and AUTM, which represents the academic technology management profession, shows that academic patent licensing contributed up to $1.9 trillion to the U.S. economy while supporting 6.5 million jobs between 1996 – 2020. Even more impressively, this impact increased substantially since the last survey was released three years ago. That showed an economic impact of $1.7 trillion with 5.9 million jobs supported.
A principal purpose of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 was imposing a uniform patent ownership policy on all federal agencies. Previously, agencies took rights to inventions made with their funding, but over the years they had developed a multiplicity of often conflicting procedures for filing appeals, with some agencies having different policies for different programs. The resulting confusion made companies crazy trying to navigate through them. The burden was particularly heavy on small businesses. The Bayh-Dole Act established a uniform policy requiring all agencies to waive invention ownership to those making patentable discoveries with their support. It also allows agencies to deviate from automatic contractor ownership of inventions in exceptional circumstances: “when it is determined by the agency that restriction or elimination of the right to retain title to any subject invention will better promote the policies and objectives of this chapter.”
As Knowledge Ecology International and its allies await the decision of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on their latest attempt to misuse the Bayh-Dole Act for the government to set prices on any product based on a federally funded invention, they’re growing more uneasy. And that’s understandable. If you’d bet the house on an ivory tower theory that’s been summarily rejected for the past 18 years every time it’s been trotted out, you’d be uneasy too. They know that if the Biden Administration rejects the pending petition to march in on the prostate cancer drug Xtandi because of its cost, this leaky vessel can’t be credibly refloated again.
As discussed previously, the critics are in full howl now that their attempts to enact legislation controlling drug prices has failed once again. They are applying unprecedented political pressure on Secretary Xavier Becerra at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to misuse the march in provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act to accomplish their goal. Nearly 100 distinguished organizations and individuals endorsed the following letter from the Bayh-Dole Coalition, which I lead, warning HHS not to take this disastrous misstep. Here’s what we said.