Agro researchers look to change IP strategy

A group of agricultural scientists from leading institutions in that field are banding together to form PIPRA (the Public-Sector Intellectual Property Rights Association, no web site yet), according to an article authored by the group in Science (subscription required).

The issue spurring on this move is the change in agricultural licensing over the last 25 years and the effect that it has had on the ability to perform research and get new inventions out into the field.

Although the group claims to be quite pleased with their relationship with the private sector (with whom they often license patented technologies), they are concerned that they are not making the best use of their intellectual property potential and are thus forming an organization to allow them to wield their power more effectively.

Individually, most universities are small in terms of the number of patents they have to trade, but as a group, universities account for about 25% of the patent granted in any given year, which is more than any one private sector agricultural organization.

The participants believe that they can use this power to encourage better licensing terms, provide patent packages, and assist subsistence farming in underdeveloped countries.

Among the universities participating in the article (and the organization) are:

  • Cornell
  • University of California
  • University of Florida
  • Michigan State
  • North Carolina State
  • Ohio State
  • Rutgers
  • University of Wisconsin It remains to be seen how effective the academics will be in getting to their goal, but if they manage to streamline the licensing process (some agricultural products, like technology products, require licenses from dozens of patent owners), it could make academic, research, commercial, and subsistence use much easier to come by.