What is The Main Function of The Bayh-dole Act of 1980 as it Relates to Academic Institutions?

What is The Main Function of The Bayh-dole Act of 1980 as it Relates to Academic Institutions? The Bayh-Dole Act, also known as the Patent and Trademark Act Amendments, holds immense importance for academic institutions involved in federally funded research. Enacted in 1980, this federal law enables universities and nonprofit research institutions to retain ownership, patent, and commercialize inventions derived from such research programs. In this article, we will explore the primary functions of the Bayh-Dole Act as it relates to academic institutions and the impact it has had on technology transfer and innovation.

Function 1: Establishing Ownership and Patent Rights

One of the key functions of the Bayh-Dole Act is to grant academic institutions the right to retain ownership of inventions resulting from federally funded research. Unless exceptional circumstances or specific conditions are identified by the funding agency, the university is entitled to maintain ownership. This provision empowers academic institutions to protect their intellectual property and capitalize on the commercial potential of their discoveries.

Function 2: Encouraging Technology Transfer

The Bayh-Dole Act acts as a catalyst for technology transfer by incentivizing academic institutions to actively engage in the commercialization of their inventions. Under the act, universities are required to disclose the creation of any inventions derived from federally funded research to the appropriate federal agency within two months of their disclosure. This disclosure triggers the process of patenting and commercializing the invention, promoting its potential for real-world application and impact.

Function 3: Government’s “March-In” Rights

To safeguard the public interest, the Bayh-Dole Act includes a provision known as the government’s “march-in” rights. This provision grants the federal government the authority to take control of an invention if certain conditions are met. For instance, if an academic institution fails to develop and commercialize the invention or if there are concerns related to health or safety, the government can exercise its march-in rights. However, these rights are rarely invoked and serve as a safety net rather than a routine practice.

Function 4: Collaboration with Small Businesses

The Bayh-Dole Act promotes collaboration between academic institutions and small businesses. When granting licenses to use their inventions, universities must give priority to small businesses, ensuring they have the opportunity to benefit from the technology. This provision fosters innovation and economic growth, as small businesses often possess the agility and entrepreneurial spirit to bring inventions to market quickly.

Function 5: Domestic Manufacturing

To support the nation’s economy, the Bayh-Dole Act requires academic institutions to ensure that inventions licensed exclusively are “manufactured substantially” in the United States. This provision aims to retain manufacturing jobs within the country and drive economic development through the utilization of domestically produced technologies.

Function 6: Revenue Allocation for Research and Education

The Bayh-Dole Act recognizes the importance of funding future research and education. Academic institutions are required to allocate a portion of the revenue generated from patented inventions towards supporting further research and educational activities. This provision ensures a cycle of innovation, where the proceeds from successful inventions contribute to the advancement of knowledge and the development of future breakthroughs.

Function 7: Recognizing Inventors’ Contributions

The Bayh-Dole Act acknowledges the contributions of inventors by requiring academic institutions to share a portion of the royalties with them. This provision incentivizes researchers and faculty members to actively participate in the innovation process and provides them with potential financial rewards for their intellectual contributions.


The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 has played a pivotal role in transforming the landscape of technology transfer and innovation within academic institutions. By granting ownership, patent rights, and commercialization opportunities, the act has empowered universities to maximize the impact of federally funded research. Through its various functions, the Bayh-Dole Act has fostered collaboration, protected intellectual property, and stimulated economic growth, ultimately benefiting society as a whole. As academic institutions continue to leverage the provisions of this landmark legislation, we can expect further advancements in research, development, and technology transfer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.