Survey Finds Scientists Believe IP Protection Has Negative Effect on Biological Research

Nature Biotechnology has just published an article on the perceived effects of intellectual property protection for biological research.  The article involved a detailed survey of academic agricultural biologists on their perception of IP and research.  The authors' primary conclusion:

Scientists believe that, contrary to the current consensus, proliferation of IP protection has a strongly negative effect on research in their disciplines. Our respondents' answers on the details of access problems are highly consistent with those reported in the recent literature, but they ultimately relate these problems to the proliferation of IP protection in academia. . .

They attribute problems of delayed or blocked access to needed research tools to material transfer agreements (MTAs). Academic administrators mandate use of MTAs to protect the value of the IP rights held by their institutions or to reduce their exposure to lawsuits by third parties. In short, the major impediment to accessing research tools is not patents per se, but patenting as an institutional imperative in the post-Bayh-Dole era.

As noted, the responses focus primarily on the barriers created by university promotion of IP protection through patenting and material transfer agreements.  Scientists reported that these efforts result in numerous delays that impede the progress of research.  Moreover, scientists express concern about the contractual restrictions on publication that come with these agreements that often cause signficant constaints on academic freedom.  The article notes that these frustrations may help explain why agricultural biologists have become leaders in open source biology.


  1. I think IP protection has had a negative effect on a lot of industries. Obama’s Transitional advisors on Technology, Innovation and Government Reform, have noted a very key aspect of this “Process has trumped outcome”, and “everybody is focused on compliance, nobody is thinking about innovation”.

    IP Protection laws no longer protect innovation, they are inhibiting it. Copyright needs to be updated, but updated by legislators and government that understand the key issues as to why innovation in many key sectors are slowing down. It’ll be interesting to see how the US Policy on IP Protection is going to change, and what our IP Protection laws will come out looking like here at home.

  2. HAHA really
    oh like some giant company hoarding kowledge and making everyone pay trillions to get a cough syrup …ya indeed this entire experiment with COPYRIGHTS is bad for the WORLD if you create share , if you do not wish to share we shall take , end of storey you shall not hinder the advancement of man no more buy you greedy ways.

    P.S. lets see if iggy can rule canada Eh?

  3. And here how copyright extenstion for sound recording actually works

    Here it is explained how the copyright extension for sound recordings will work – if the European MEPs pass the proposal of extending the term from 50 to 95 years.

  4. YA soon all ways to make music are owned and music dies
    smart way to kill hte industry and like i sai dall artists in music and movies are OUR enemies PERIOD until they start to change these assinine laws then we have to start treating them like the fags and fruits and jerks they are

  5. stephen harpers GST reduction sinks canada into debt

    ok 2 years at 12.6X1 = 25,2 billion add one year at 12.6 billion
    = 37.8 billion
    now whats harpers defeceit on that page

  6. Patented Tools
    I think the Nature Article is entirely right. How well could a carpenter design new things if he had to pay a fee every time he used his hammer, a different fee every time he used his screwdriver, and was not able to purchase a table saw, but instead had to send out the wood to be cut at extortionate rates?

    How much of the money we think we’re spending on research actually goes to innovation and how much to biotech companies that have patented all the tools of research?