By Mindvault Sdn Bhd

Kuala Lumpur, 28 October 2004 – The recent announcement by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI) to introduce a new Bill modelled after the United States’ Bayh-Dole Act (the Act) is seen as a positive step towards helping local scientists reap commercial benefit from their research efforts.

“This move by MoSTI signals a paradigm shift that is expected to fuel the commercialisation of government-funded R&D” said David Oh, Director of Mindvault Sdn Bhd, an Intellectual Property consulting firm specialising in the strategic management and commercialisation of intellectual assets.

“In the US, the Act allows universities and businesses to own the Intellectual Property rights in government-funded inventions for the purpose of further development and commercialisation.”

Prior to the Act, the US government was reluctant to relinquish ownership of federally- funded inventions to the inventing organisation. Without exclusive rights that come with ownership, companies were reluctant to invest in and develop new products if competitors could also acquire licenses from the government and then manufacture and sell the same products.

Following the introduction of the Act, the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) conducted surveys which demonstrated clear evidence of increased innovation and commercialisation activity. Analysis of the 1991 and 2000 surveys show that invention disclosures increased by 84%, new patent applications by 238%, licence agreements by 161% and royalties by more than 520%.

“Early criticism that the Act sanctioned the government to give away rights to inventions paid for by taxpayers were easily set aside because the effect of the Act was to force universities to strengthen their technology licensing policies, resulting in new jobs, new companies, tax revenues and greater economic development,” said Oh.

“We do not know whether the Malaysian version of the Act will stimulate the same follow-on effect but it is hoped that the Government will expedite its implementation and help propel the R&D environment in Malaysia to greater heights” Oh added.