Who should own Swedish patents?

19.05.2006
Some think that Sweden‘s leading role in research and innovation is due partly to its patent legislation, securing researchers employed at universities and university colleges the right to their own inventions. Now a possible abolition of this legislation might be the case according to a new government report. Naive, says patent-rich researcher.
In the new Ministry of Education report Nyttiggörande av högskoleuppfinningar on the utilisation of university inventions two alternatives are drawn up:
  • Keeping the existing legislation and introducing a duty to report patentable inventions developed by researchers employed at universities
  • Abolition of the legislation and giving the universities a possibility to take over the university inventions
Marianne Levin, professor of civil law at Stockholm University and leader of the report committee thinks a change is due and says to magazine Tentakel:
"Personally I do not think it is such a bad idea if the universities have the possibility of taking over the commercialisation of patents. Not to provide extra incomes for the universities, but to stir it up a little and become aware of the assets that the university research represents today."
The universities are often better bargaining partners than the individual researcher, thinks Levin, and points out the fact that many researchers are not able to spend time and effort to commercialise their patents.

Electricity professor Mats Leijon of Uppsala University, the owner of more than 500 patents on everything from high voltage generators to wave power, thinks the government‘s proposal is naive:
"If you want to create new, large Swedish companies employing lots of workers, the driving-force person must be there from the start and follow through. The universities are among the few places where you can work this way today." According to Leijon the researchers themselves are best at understanding the value of their own ideas.
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