Patent and Invention Policy
The patent and invention policy at Northwestern University largely stems from the Bayh-Dole Act, also known as the Government Patent Policy Act of 1980, which was enacted largely to stimulate economic and entrepreneurial activity by promoting the commercialization of inventions stemming from federally funded research. Specifically, the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act allow universities to retain ownership of as well as manage the patenting and licensing for those inventions. (See below for an excerpt of this legislation.) Further, the university is mandated to comply with the sponsored research specifications by the government, industry partners or non-profit entities that require the reporting of innovations.
Northwestern University seeks to incentivize inventors—faculty, staff and students--and the commercialization of university innovations while continuing to invest in future research that builds the pipeline of inventions. Our patent policy defines the covered inventors and details of the intellectual property and provides the structure by which we support the life cycle of novel ideas/technologies (patent prosecution, licenses, distribution of royalties, etc.).
Bayh-Dole Act (35 U.S.C. §§ 200-212) Excerpt
The Bayh-Dole Act specifically states that it is the policy and objective of the Congress to use the patent system to:
- Promote the utilization of inventions arising from federally supported research or development;
- Encourage maximum participation of small business firms in federally supported research and development efforts;
- Promote collaboration between commercial concerns and nonprofit organizations, including universities;
- Ensure that inventions made by nonprofit organizations and small business firms are used in a manner to promote free competition and enterprise;
- Promote the commercialization and public availability of inventions made in the United States by United States industry and labor;
- Ensure that the Government obtains sufficient rights in federally supported inventions to meet the needs of the Government and protect the public against nonuse or unreasonable use of inventions;
- Minimize the costs of administering policies in this area.