Public Sector Intellectual Property Management in Life Sciences: Reconciling Practice and Policy
This chapter reviews the options for effective public sector management of intellectual property (IP) in the life sciences, focusing on the need for a judicious, pragmatic choice of options along two axes: (1) deployment of exclusive rights over technology and (2) use of market mechanisms to bring a new technology to the public. The essence of public sector IP management is finding the right settings along these two axes that will deliver tangible outcomes in line with defined public-interest objectives. Experience shows that ex ante assumptions about how to gain optimal leverage from exclusive rights, and the appropriate degree of reliance on market mechanisms, are unlikely to serve a public sector IP manager well. In clarifying objectives and the practical means of achieving them, pragmatic coordination between the practical and policy levels is essential. Public sector IP managers are more likely to be assessed against public interest expectations than their private sector colleagues. In IP management in the life sciences, policy and practice are ultimately two sides of the same coin; practitioners cannot hope, expect, or plan to operate outside the broader policy perspective. Policy-makers therefore need to consider the actual practice of IP management when assessing a policy framework for innovation in the life sciences. IP managers should be open to using legal mechanisms flexibly for inclusion, or exclusion, as required to achieve their goals. Finally, managers should seek mechanisms to pragmatically structure and promote partnerships with those who have the resources necessary to bring life-sciences innovation to the public. Such partnerships may be centered in the public, philanthropic, or private sectors, but more likely fall into a hybrid mix of these categories.