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> RECOMMENDATIONS - LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PUBLIC FUNDED RESEARCH
  Legal Framework for Public Funded Research
 

16th January, 2007

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

The National Knowledge Commission while deliberating on issues related to the creation and application of knowledge recognizes the need to provide impetus to government funded research and to translate this knowledge into relevant and useful applications to benefit the widest cross-section of people. Our consultation with diverse stakeholders has revealed that there is a need to provide incentives to increase innovations, collaborations, licensing and commercialization.

It is therefore recommended to enact legislation that creates a uniform legal framework for the government funded research and gives universities and research institutions ownership and patent rights. This will create an enabling environment for them to commercialize such inventions through licensing arrangements where inventors would also be allowed to receive a share of the royalty. Conferring ownership rights on universities and linking such ownership with the patent system and the market, will make research more attractive and in the process bring about a radical change in the research landscape in India. The proposed enactment could also incorporate important safeguards for exceptional circumstances where the government could be given ‘march in rights’ to protect the public good.

Uniformity of policy for inventions generated out of government-funded research will provide incentives to various stakeholders as follows:

  • GOVERNMENT: The government could retain the right to a non-exclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable paid up license to practice the invention throughout the world. It could also have the responsibility and power to monitor the implementation of the act by a provision that requires concerned parties to report to the government on an annual basis on matters pertaining to utilization of the invention. Since the patent applications would be filed and owned by the relevant institutions, the government would be spared from bearing the costs of filing applications. The government could also be given the right to own the invention where the party decides not to retain title or fails to file the requisite patent application. Finally, ‘march in rights’ accorded to the government in certain situations involving the public good as well as exceptions for circumstances involving, inter alia, national security and defence imperatives would help assuage fears on the same.
  • UNIVERSITIES/R&D: For universities and research institutions, revenue generating incentives lie in ownership and control over the fruits of research generated out of government funds. This should encourage filing patents in their own name and entering into commercialization processes with industry. Further, the inventor, through profit sharing of royalties from licenses, would also get rewarded accordingly. The proposed enactment could also provide that the balance of any royalties or income earned after payment of expenses, be ploughed back for scientific research and education.
  • INDUSTRY: A higher degree of industry participation in university research will result due to clear legal title, a uniform legal regime for all government funded research, commercial gain through collaborative arrangements, opportunities to obtain exclusive licenses and new businesses opportunities for the new inventions.
  • PEOPLE: Finally, the taxpayer, whose resources are used in government funding of research, will also get the benefit of inventions, in the form of products and services once they are commercialized and made available in the market
   
 
 

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