Japan Law Fosters Academic Patents

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Science  29 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5368, pp. 1340-1341
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5368.1340b

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TOKYO-- Researchers at Japan's national universities are largely on their own when it comes to patenting, and few spend the time and money to pursue a legal claim to an invention, which often leads to potentially lucrative research results being given away or passing into the public domain, where they are of little commercial value. But earlier this month the Japanese Diet passed legislation providing monetary support and other incentives for so-called technology licensing organizations (TLOs) to work with university researchers to patent and license their discoveries. Although a few TLOs already exist, the law is expected to validate the idea that private bodies--they would not be operated by universities--should play a bigger role in transferring technology from national universities and laboratories to industry.