The article “Academic Patents and Materials Transfer Agreements: Substitutes or Complements?” by Arvids A. Ziedonis & David C. Mowery published in Journal of Technology Transfer, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 157-172, 2007
focuses on U.S. universities and academic medical centers long have
been important performers of research in the life sciences, but their
role as a source of patented intellectual property in this field has
changed significantly in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The
expanded presence of formal intellectual property rights within the
academic biomedical research enterprise has occasioned numerous
expressions of concern from scholars, policymakers, and participants.

The paper talks about “One
widely expressed fear involves the effects of patenting on the conduct
of the scientific research enterprise. There is also considerable
concern over the possible role of Material Transfer Agreements “MTAs”
in raising research transaction costs.” On the other hand, others
suggest that the contractual structure provided by MTAs may reduce
transaction costs and facilitate exchange.”

This paper undertakes a preliminary analysis of the role of MTAs in the biomedical research enterprise at the University of Michigan, a significant patenter and licensor of biomedical intellectual property.

The authors state

“We examine the relationship among invention disclosures, patenting, licensing, and the presence or absence of an MTA. Although
data limitations make any conclusions tentative, our analysis suggests
that the increased assertion of property rights by universities through
MTAs does not appear to impede the commercialization of university
research through patenting and licensing.”

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