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The Enactment of Bayh–Dole


The Bayh–Dole Act of 1980 reversed 35 years of public policy and gave universities and small businesses the unfettered right to own inventions that resulted from federally funded research. The Act was opposed by the Carter administration, which had a different view of how to utilize the results of federally funded research to drive economic development. It is not widely appreciated that the bill had died in the regular sessions of the 96th Congress and was only passed into law in a lame duck session necessitated to pass the budget. Only a magnanimous gesture of respect for Senator Birch Bayh, who had been defeated in the 1980 election, on the part of Senator Russell Long allowed the bill to receive the unanimous consent needed to pass a bill in lame duck session. This article lays out the roles of the key congressional staffers who forged this historic compromise and the last minute maneuvers needed to obtain President Carter's signature.

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  • 'Innovation's Golden Goose' December 12th 2002 The Economist 'Technology Quarterly'.

  • See, for instance, Richard Nelson, 2001, 'Observations on the Post Bayh-Dole Rise of Patenting at American Universities,' Journal of Technology Transfer 26, 13-19; Avital Bar-Shalom and Robert Cook-Deegan, 2002, 'Patents and Innovation in Cancer Therapies: Lessons from CellPro,' Milbank Quarterly 80 (4); and Derek Bok, 2003, in Universities in the Market Place, Princeton University Press, April.

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Stevens, A.J. The Enactment of Bayh–Dole. The Journal of Technology Transfer 29, 93–99 (2004).

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  • Economic Growth
  • Economic Development
  • Public Policy
  • Small Business
  • Industrial Organization