On Thu, 7 Aug 2003 19:42:25 -0400, Daniel Dudley wrote
>> On Thu, 7 Aug 2003 15:16:38 -0400, Daniel Dudley wrote
>>>>>> I am very interested in the attitudes of scientists,
>>>>>> inventors, or researchers towards starting a company
>>>>>> in order to commercialise their IP. I am completing a
>>>>>> thesis on this subject would like some feedback
>>>>>> (multiple choice questions).
>>>>> Commercialization of products born out of academic
>>>>> research by the researchers and for the economical benefit
>>>>> of the researchers is appalling. First they host their pay
>>>>> (mostly taxpayer's money) and then extra income based on
>>>>> what they have produced with that pay. In short, it shows
>>>>> a disgusting lack of m*responsibility by the persons
>>>>> involved. :-(
>>>> Hard to argue with this, but is it not the case that an
>>> < academic researcher's contract will generally have a clause
>>>> which assigns to the academic establishment ownership of
>>>> inventions made in the course of his or her duties. This is
>>>> the norm in the commercial world.
>>> Right, hence the statement: "...a disgusting lack of m*
>>> responsibility by the persons involved."
>> Typically, academic institutions own patents on the inventions,
>> and are quite interested in being able to gain income from
>> those patents. A good way to do that is to start a company
>> with the academic researcher involved in some way. The
>> academic institution profits, the researcher profits,
>> and new jobs are created.
> Why should the researcher profit (in excess of his pay)?
Because, there's a difference between doing the basic
research (in academia), and producing saleable products.
It's rare that the research product is something that
can be packaged and sold.
>> Patents aren't very profitable if nobody's using them,
>> and thus licensing them. An ideal way to turn patents
>> into revenue is to start companies to market products
>> based on the patents.
> No argument there.
>> I'd be very surprised if MIT isn't going to profit in some
>> way from the company iRobot, which produces the
>> 'Roomba' robotic consumer vacuum and other robotic
>> things. Rodney Brooks, director of MIT's AI lab, is
>> iRobot's Chairman and CTO.
> But does the taxpayer profit? If academic institutions are
> to be run on a commercial basis, then those institutions
> shouldn't have a fall-guy behind them (one that will pump
> in money when there are bad times in the market). That
> amounts to state subsidies, which is considered unfair
> practice in the commercial and international trade world.
I don't think you can assume a given piece of research is paid
for by the government.
However, you might say the taxpayer benefits by having
products available that would not otherwise have been.
The government benefits by having things it can buy
(say, robotic mine removal equipment) that it could not
buy before at any price.
Again, it's the difference between research and the production
of marketable product. Going from research to saleable product
is a significant process. Universities don't produce
marketable products very often.
Research can go on without many of the constraints that are
necessary in the real world. You don't need to bother designing
something that's affordably manufacturable. It doesn't have
to look good. It doesn't have to be easy to use. It just needs
to meet the functional requirements
All that said, I don't think research done in-house at
government agencies should be exclusively licensed. But
someone who worked on the research certainly ought to
be able to start a spin off to make products based
on that publicly available IP.