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Yay, Bayh-Dole!

Ever since the Bayh-Dole Act was passed, universities have scrambled to patent everything they could in the hopes of reaping rich rewards from the licensing revenues that are occasionally possible when you hold a lot of patents.

This article from JAMA ($) suggests that that revenue is not in fact very significant for the vast majority of universities, and that in many cases the costs of maintaining a technology transfer office to handle the patent applications and the licensing eats up any revenues that flow from technology licenses.

Only a few universities reap large net revenues from licensing. Surprisingly, these aren't always the universities that spend the most on research. Harvard? Stanford? Neither make a ton of money from licensing, at least relative to their research expenses. The universities that score big usually score big because they get lucky. For example, Florida State pulls in big cash because they have the patent on the anti-cancer drug Taxol. The University of Florida cashes in on the Gatorade trademark (wtf??).

The authors argue persuasively that, as a tool for motivating productive research, technology licensing hasn't had a huge effect in the U.S. They point out that other countries considering this model ought to worry that if they don't have a robust system of publicly-funded research, relying on technology licensing is more likely to slant research toward the benefit of the rich, who can pay large licensing fees. That this hasn't happened in the U.S. is probably because we still have a healthy amount of public research funding available.


Gatorade was invented at the University of Florida. It was originally developed for the school's football team, the Gators. So it makes sense that UF would have the trademark.

What Larry said, although I'm not sure that UF owns the "Gatorade" trademark; my guess is the "Gator" in "Gatorade" is in fact licensing of the "Gators" team name. You can't use a college team name or logo (just like you can't use a pro team name/logo) for commercial purposes without licensing it.

I think Pepsico owns the gatorade trademark, and the money flows to UF because of its agreement with the patentholder for Gatorade:

"Cade patented the drink, calling it Gatorade at the suggestion of a colleague after the university's football team, "The Gators". . . .

"When the Gators credited the drink with their first Orange Bowl win in 1967, Gatorade gained instant notoriety and garnered media interest. Cade offered his patent rights to the University of Florida, but they turned him down. . . .

"Meanwhile, in 1973, Cade and the University of Florida were able to strike a deal that allows the university to reap royalties for Gatorade each year."


I wonder what the UF had to bargain with in its negotiations with Cade. The "gator" trademark? The fact that Cade used UF facilities to develop the drink?

I just want to say, "go gators!"

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