Public Funded R&D Bill may benefit the private sector

The Union Ministry of Science and Technology is forcing through a controversial act which seeks to regulate rights over government-funded research. Many feel that Public Funded R&D (Protection, Utilization and Regulation of Intellectual Property) Bill, 2007, will benefit the private sector more than the public.

The ministry feels the benefits of government-funded research are not reaching the public since scientists are not able to translate their work into products. While the bill puts the onus on researchers to commercialize their work, it ignores crucial reasons behind the works lying unutilized.

Most of the research taking place in government-funded institutions are irrelevant to industry and the public. For example, out of the 400 research works recently patented at the Delhi's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, only 34 reached the public."Government research bodies do not understand what the public and the industry need,' says Rajeswari Raina, senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi.

Moreover, industry does not have confidence in the research and the country lacks venture capital for product development.

The bill transfers patent rights to the researcher from the government. Currently, while researchers in some autonomous institutions such as iit and iisc can commercialize their research, the patent rights are largely held by the government. If a dispute on the ownership of the patent arises, there is no law to protect the rights of the researchers. The bill, however, says researchers have to make attempts to commercialize the research in 90 days after formally disclosing the findings. If they fail, the rights will go to the government.

Modelled on the controversial Bayh-Dole Act in the US, the bill ignores grassroots innovations

The bill is modelled on the controversial Bayh-Dole Act in the us (also see