wondered whether Celera would in fact have just a few hundred patents by the time it finishes sequencing the human genome.

In turning over the podium to the panelists, Mr. Goldstein said that the patent system reminded him of one of the animals from Dr. Dolittle, the Push-Me-Pull-You, the two-headed llama that wanted to go in two directions at once. The patent system, Dr. Goldstein said, may be a multi-headed llama, with a number of conflicting tensions in constant search of a grand compromise to determine in what direction it will finally go.

SECTORAL VARIATIONS IN THE ROLE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Wesley Cohen

Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Cohen began by saying that the title of the paper he was going to discuss is “Patents, Public Research, and Implications for Industrial Innovation in the Drug, Biotechnology, Semiconductor, and Computer Industries” and that his co-author is Dr. John Walsh of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The paper is part of a larger project being conducted in collaboration with Richard Nelson of Columbia University.

Dr. Cohen said he would try to examine some of the assumptions underpinning the patent system, especially when it comes to the public-private interface and public research. By public research, Dr. Cohen said he meant research conducted by universities using public funds, and research conducted in federal laboratories. He also said that he would look closely at the assumptions underlying the Bayh-Dole Act. The rationale for Bayh-Dole was that there was an “urn full of untapped possibilities in universities and other public research institutions” and that universities needed the ability to patent this knowledge to fully exploit their R&D potential. This would serve as an incentive to universities to commercialize and provide the complementary R&D that would take these ideas into the commercial marketplace. Another part of this rationale was to give faculty members extra incentive to push their innovations from the university laboratory into the commercial arena. Dr. Cohen said that most of the circulation of university research is done through the traditional channel of publication in journals.

The questions Dr. Cohen planned to address included the following:

  • Do patents really protect industrial R&D?

  • Does public research need to be privatized to ensure its commercialization?

The industries to be examined are drugs, biotechnology, semiconductors, and computers. The data used in the analysis comes from the 1994 Carnegie



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement