Bayh-Dole Act

Enacted on December 12, 1980, the Bayh-Dole Act (P.L. 96-517, Patent and Trademark Act Amendments of 1980) created a uniform patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research, enabling small businesses and non-profit organizations, including universities, to retain title to inventions made under federally-funded research programs.This legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Birch Bayh of Indiana and Robert Dole of Kansas.The Bayh-Dole Act was especially instrumental in encouraging universities to participate in technology transfer activities.

The Act is "perhaps the most inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America over the past half-century," according to The Economist. "Innovation's Golden Goose," an opinion piece published in the Dec. 12, 2002, edition the respected publication, states: "Together with amendments in 1984 and augmentation in 1986, this unlocked all the inventions and discoveries that had been made in laboratories throughout the United States with the help of taxpayers' money. More than anything, this single policy measure helped to reverse America's precipitous slide into industrial irrelevance."

Major provisions of the Act include:

  • Non-profits, including universities, and small businesses may elect to retain title to innovations developed under federally-funded research programs
  • Universities are encouraged to collaborate with commercial concerns to promote the utilization of inventions arising from federal funding
  • Universities are expected to file patents on inventions they elect to own
  • Universities are expected to give licensing preference to small businesses
  • The government retains a non-exclusive license to practice the patent throughout the world
  • The government retains march-in rights.


Bayh-Dole Talking Points

Over the years, various groups have expressed support or questions about the Bayh-Dole Act. The AUTM Public Policy Committee has tried to compile some of that information into one document of talking points that you may wish to use when speaking with senior university management, legislators, the media, and the general public. We recommend adding another page that highlights the specific successes generated by your organization and have provided some ideas on what you could include.

Other countries with similar Bayh-Dole legislation:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom

Bayh-Dole Act Archives 

AUTM has long advocated for the Bayh-Dole Act. Vist the archive to learn about our past activity.