Big Tech Companies Funding University Research Labs... Only If They Promise To Open Source The Results

from the kinda-backwards dept

The state of universities and intellectual property is pretty messy these days. Thanks to the screwed up Bayh-Dole law, many universities feel (wrongly) compelled to patent the research that they produce. This generally goes against their basic charters of sharing the knowledge that they create. It's also not very profitable. Only a small handful of universities have been able to make money off of patents. Most have lost a ton of money, setting up expensive tech transfer offices that don't return a dime.

However, in an interesting twist (pointed out by Glyn Moody), it appears that a variety of big tech companies, including Intel, HP and IBM, are now funding research centers on the condition that they open source anything that comes out of them.

Think about that for a second. These institutions of learning, who for decades have been built on education and sharing knowledge, want to lock up ideas. And the private companies, who are more commonly associated with trying to lock up proprietary information, are encouraging greater openness and sharing. That, alone, should show you just how screwed up our patent system is today.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: bayh-dole, open source, patents, universities
Companies: hp, ibm, intel


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2011 @ 10:49pm

    When the US army declares that the lack of manufacturing capabilities is a threat to national security and it wants to create a crowdsourced(aka open source) fab base in the US to keep the nation safe you know something is wrong, very wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jose_X, 15 Sep 2011 @ 3:59am

      Open trade secrets

      That is where I'm putting my money! Seriously.

      I also think taxes should largely be voluntary (minus some fraction in the 10 - 20 % range of what you would otherwise owe) if you allow all your assets, significant contracts, income, etc, during the year to be made public information at tax time. This transparency would allow the public to be better shoppers and help preserve self-regulation and fair playing fields instead of what we have now.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 15 Sep 2011 @ 9:03am

      Re:

      "and it wants to create a crowdsourced(aka open source) fab base in the US"

      Do you have a link??

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2011 @ 11:12pm

    "a variety of big tech companies, including Intel, HP and IBM, are now funding research centers on the condition that they open source anything that comes out of them. "

    But ... but ... but ... Impossible!!!

    Without patents, how can the private sector ever fund anything?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    freak (profile), 15 Sep 2011 @ 3:29am

    It's software, that's only common practice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jose_X, 15 Sep 2011 @ 4:09am

    I Will Hand Over My IP For Exploitation When They Peel My Cold Dead Fingers From Around It.

    A major reason I have not worked in IT (eg, developing software), even part time, has been that I refuse to hand over IP rights to contribute to some firms' patent, copyright, or trade secret arsenal.

    [This isn't to say that no open source opportunities exist.]

    So this is welcomed news.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2011 @ 6:38am

    Universities and their staff has spend decades locking up their results, either in direct patents and copyrights, or by the professors opening companies that hold the patents for the commercial side.

    Did you just wake up to that?

    Heck, your alma mater seems to have paid for at least part of your education on the back of patents and licensing:

    http://www.cctec.cornell.edu/technology/patents/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2011 @ 6:52am

    These institutions of learning... want to lock up ideas. And the private companies... are encouraging greater openness and sharing.

    ... cats and dogs living together! Mass Hysteria!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2011 @ 2:28pm

    UWaterloo has the best system for handling IP out of any university I've seen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories
.

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.