University Licensing and the Flow of Scientific Knowledge

34 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2017 Last revised: 21 Aug 2020

See all articles by Neil Thompson

Neil Thompson

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL); MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

Arvids A. Ziedonis

KU Leuven - Faculty of Economics and Business; Department of Management, Strategy, and Innovation

David C. Mowery

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 12, 2018

Abstract

As university involvement in technology transfer and entrepreneurship has increased, concerns over the patenting and licensing of scientific discoveries have grown. This paper examines the effect that the licensing of academic patents has on journal citations to academic publications covering the same scientific research. We analyze data on invention disclosures, patents, and licenses from the University of California, a leading U.S. academic patenter and licensor, between 1997 and 2007. We also develop a novel “inventor-based” maximum likelihood matching technique to automate and generalize Murray's (2002) “patent-paper pairs” methodology. We use this methodology to identify the scientific publications associated with University of California patents
and licenses.

Based on a “difference-in-differences” analysis, we find that within our sample of patented academic discoveries, citations to licensed patent-linked publications are higher in the three years after the license, although this difference is not statistically significant. We then disaggregate our sample into (a) patented discoveries that are likely to be used as “research tools” by other researchers (based on the presence of material transfer agreements (MTAs) that cover them) and (b) patented discoveries not covered by MTAs. Citations to publications linked to licensed patents in the latter subset (not covered by MTAs) are higher for publications linked to licensed patents, and this difference is statistically significant. In contrast, licensing of patented discoveries that are also research tools is associated with a reduction in citations to papers linked to these research advances, raising the possibility that licensing may restrict the flow of inputs to “follow-on” scientific research.

Keywords: University Research, Technology Transfer, Scientific Communication, Intellectual Property, Licensing, Material Transfer Agreements, Research Inputs, Research Tools

JEL Classification: O31, O32, R12

Suggested Citation

Thompson, Neil and Ziedonis, Arvids Alexander and Mowery, David C., University Licensing and the Flow of Scientific Knowledge (March 12, 2018). Thompson, Neil C., Ziedonis, Arvids A., Mowery, David C. (2018). University licensing and the flow of scientific knowledge. Research Policy. Vol 47(6), pp 1060-1069. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2018.03.008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2899547 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2899547

Neil Thompson

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.neil-t.com

MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy ( email )

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50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Arvids Alexander Ziedonis

KU Leuven - Faculty of Economics and Business; Department of Management, Strategy, and Innovation ( email )

Warmoesberg 26
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

David C. Mowery (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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