Time to adopt intellectual property policy for universities | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 30, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, July 30, 2019

Time to adopt intellectual property policy for universities

Bangladesh has continuously been ranking in poor position at global and regional innovations index. Despite the noticeable progress in many areas, including ICT sectors, the scenario of innovations and creativity remain dissatisfactory. What factors are possibly responsible for such condition? One may appropriately argue that our university education is not practical needs and goals oriented rather more on obtaining theoretical knowledge and achieving formal degree at the end. The lack of labs, infrastructures, funds, poor academic and research culture may also be designated as contributing factors which do not encourage creativity and innovations in the young minds. Moreover, there is almost non-existent collaboration between the industry and the university. Till date, there is no specific legislation governing IP policy at educational or research institution and our universities do not have their own intellectual property policy either.

As per the University Grants Commission (UGC) website, as many as 45 public, 103 private and three international universities are currently operating in Bangladesh. Regrettably, very few Technology Transfer Offices (TTO’s), are in operation at our university (TTOs at University of Dhaka and BUET with limited scale of activities). In 2018, Bangladesh has adopted national IP policy which stipulates the need of and plan for establishing the TTOs and Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC) at the public and private institutions. Furthermore, the UGC of Bangladesh, as part of the project of the World Bank has drafted IP Policy for University which is still in Draft stage. It reflects the major rules and regulations of IP policy and technology transfer at the university. It postulates the provisions for IP cell and TTOs at the university, responsibilities of faculties, students and supporting staffs, rules for assignment and authorisation of IP. It particularly mentions the rules for university ownership of IP created by employees in the course of employment or funding by university, few situations for inventor’s ownership if university is not interested or if it is created beyond the course of employment and third-party ownership in case of funding and research collaboration.

Many countries have already put into practice of TTOs and IP policy for public funded research. The US Bayh-Dole Act 1980 is one of the leading legislations which transfers the ownership of IP arising out of public funded research to the university and thereby empowering university to license to third party. Denmark, Japan and Germany have abolished ‘professor’s privilege’ and adopted rules for institutional IP while inventors or authors have right to royalty. The significant reforms have been taken place in China, Canada and the UK in this regard. The UK has guided the Lambert Model Agreements for IP management resulted in university and industry collaborated projects. While appreciating relevant issues, we must not forget that there are number of challenges and criticisms as well on adopting IP policy for university. How far ethically it is appropriate to grant exclusive rights to university in a public funded research? Isn’t it double benefits given for one project? How far institutional or academic IP really helps in actual invention or creativity unless accompanied by actual technology transfer? Despite the criticisms and challenges, university IP policy guided by the central legislation has been proved to be a viable option in many countries. It may be concluded that if appropriate IP Policy for university has been put into practice in Bangladesh, it may be conducive for technology transfer between university and industry may also create a sound creativity and innovations atmosphere at the universities and research institutions. 

THE WRITER IS SENIOR LECTURER IN LAW, EAST WEST UNIVERSITY BANGLADESH, CURRENTLY ON STUDY LEAVE TO PURSUE LLM IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW BY WIPO ACADEMY AND ANKARA UNIVERSITY.

 

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