Parliamentary panel calls for transparency in public research
The Union government on Monday introduced a revision to the Utilisation of Publicly Funded Intellectual Property Bill, 2008, which has been tabled in both the houses of Parliament.
The changes to the Bill by a House committee call for greater transparency and stress that all patents registered by government-funded institutions and their licensing deals be made public.
The original Bill—often referred to as the Indian Bayh Dole Bill, after a 1980 US law along similar lines—which was drafted in 2008 and sent to the Rajya Sabha by the ministry science and technology, had faced strong criticism for lack of transparency on patenting and licensing of publicly funded research work and inventions.
Following objections by the scientific community and public interest groups, the Bill was put up for wider public debate, and a parliamentary committee, headed by Congress member of Parliament T. Subbarami Reddy was appointed to suggest changes.
…“There were a total of 75 amendments suggested to the Bill, and the government has apparently agreed to them,” Reddy told Mint in an interview on Monday.
….The Bill was meant to boost commercial utilization of publicly-funded research, and had mandated compulsory patenting and licensing of publicly funded discoveries. It had provisions to reward scientists for compliance, but also included penal provisions such as taking back half the funds already granted and a freeze on fresh funds to institutions that did not meet its terms.
The conditions had raised concerns among government-funded scientific institutions as well as scientists, while public interest groups said forceful patent protection and exclusive licensing of publicly-funded research outputs would lead to commercial abuse.
“I am particularly pleased with the revision to bring in more transparency in the law, as we had argued very strongly for more transparency before the parliamentary committee, since the money that goes into the publicly funded inventions belonged to taxpayers, and they should know how these inventions are being appropriated,” said Shamnad Basheer, a ministry of human resources department chair on patent law at Kolkata’s NationalUniversity of Juridical Sciences.”…..