The Bayh-Dole Coalition is a diverse group of research and scientific organizations, as well as those directly involved in commercializing new products, committed to protecting the Bayh-Dole Act and educating policymakers about the positive impacts of the law.

The Founding Fathers

In 1980, Senators Birch Bayh (D-IN) and Bob Dole (R-KS) drafted the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, which eventually became known as the “Bayh-Dole Act.”

The two Senators recognized that scientists benefiting from federal funding were routinely making breakthrough discoveries — but by and large, those innovations would go on to gather dust. The reason? Discoveries that benefited from federal funding were not being effectively managed; the government was taking them away from the inventing organization to make them available to anyone through non-exclusive licensing.

The Bayh-Dole Act revolutionized technology transfer as it allowed universities, small businesses, and nonprofits to capitalize on their research and turn their discoveries into viable consumer products. By ensuring that academic institutions and companies would own inventions they make with government-support, Senators Bayh and Dole spurred the transformation of laboratory discoveries into new products benefitting the American taxpayer — and citizens throughout the world.

Birch Bayh and Bob Dole in Washington, 1985.

Hall of Fame

In addition to Senators Bayh and Dole, others have contributed to the passage and continuing success of the Act, now considered giants whose shoulders we stand upon.

Howard Bremer and Norman Latker envisioned the Bayh-Dole system and worked the rest of their lives to bring it into being and to nurture it.

In 1978, Purdue University contacted Senator Birch Bayh’s Judiciary Committee staff about a patent problem they were having. The meeting included Howard Bremer and Norman Latker and led to the introduction of what was to become the Bayh-Dole Act. Howard and Norm helped us craft the Bayh-Dole Act which introduced the incentives of the patent system– and decentralized technology management– to take these inventions from the laboratory into the marketplace where they now improve lives around the world.

Norman Latker, Howard Bremer, Niels Reimers and Senator Bayh at AUTM for the 25th anniversary celebration of Bayh-Dole, 2005

Howard Bremer

Howard was part of what’s rightly called The Greatest Generation—those who survived the Great Depression, fought and won World War II and then came home to build the most prosperous nation in history. Howard represented a rapidly receding era when integrity, modesty and personal responsibility were commonly held virtues.

Howard’s efforts were critical in the success of enacting Bayh-Dole and over the years, he remained a steadfast defender pushing back against the critics of the patent system. Whenever he saw misleading attacks launched against Bayh-Dole, he would not sit idly by, but went straight to work on a response which was always factual, and never stooped to personal attacks.

Norman Latker

Norm was the patent counsel at the National Institutes of Health in the 1960s. He realized that billions of dollars’ worth of federally funded research was going unused because the government took patent rights away from universities and others creating inventions with agency support. Norm envisioned a more effective system to take these discoveries off of the agency shelves, and transform them into useful products. Working with the founders of what became AUTM, the program became the forerunner of the Bayh-Dole Act.

When the law finally passed, Bayh and Dole entrusted crafting the implementing regulations to Norm’s capable hands. He then spent two years successfully fighting off efforts by the bureaucracy to undermine the law.

Niels Reimers

Niels Reimers actively supported Bayh-Dole and developed the Stanford technology transfer model, which he later took to MIT. Niels licensed the Cohen-Boyer invention, which is widely considered to have jump started the U.S. biotechnology industry. The impact of Cohen-Boyer alerted American companies to the value of universities as research partners; Bayh-Dole made this, and similar federally funded discoveries economic, not just scientific, assets.

D. Bruce Merrifield

As Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology during the Reagan Administration, the development and oversight of regulations implementing Bayh-Dole came under Dr. Merrifield’s jurisdiction. Quickly realizing the importance of the law, Dr. Merrifield explained to the White House that it was something the President should support. He also gave Norman Latker full support to push back against efforts to weaken the regulations.

Dr. Merrifield was a rare public servant who was not afraid to take risks and use his position to advance the public good. He was not intimidated when challenged by more powerful agencies and never backed down when things got rough. Without his leadership, Bayh-Dole would not have survived its infancy.

Success Stories

Innovations made possible thanks to the Bayh-Dole Act include:

  • Google
  • Virtual exposure therapy
  • Neoprene
  • Firefighting drones
  • eSight 3 electronic glasses
  • Non-lethal pest control
  • Biosorption activated media filtration system
  • Honeycrisp apples
  • Quantum computing
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Allegra
  • Flu mist
  • Nicotine patch
  • Technology to remove arsenic/ammonia from drinking water
  • Children’s vaccine for Rotavirus
  • Airport scanners for detecting explosives in shoes
  • Cervical cancer tests
  • Early detection and protection against Osteoporosis
  • Blood test detecting brain injuries
  • V-chip (allows parents to prevent children from viewing certain TV shows)
  • Organ preservation solutions
  • Gene chips
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Advanced ultrasound imaging
  • Coumadin (blood thinner)
  • CAR T-cell therapy
  • Live vaccine candidates to protect against pneumonia
  • Lyrica (drug to combat neuropathic pain and epilepsy)
  • Amevive/alefacept (to treat psoriasis)
  • Paper-based diagnostic chip
  • Taxol (drug to fight breast and ovarian cancers)
  • Tovaxin™ (custom multiple sclerosis therapy)
  • Ervebo/ rVSV-ZEBOV (Ebola vaccine)
  • Zerit (AIDS therapy)
  • Epivir (AIDS therapy)
  • Electronic funds transfer (and secure communications)
  • High-definition television
  • Sustained drug delivery technology
  • Window technology for computers
  • Cloud computing interface
  • Lightweight automobile wheels
  • Electronic connectors for billions of devices

Bayh-Dole Today

Thanks to Bayh-Dole, tens of thousands of innovations have been made available to the public. But support for America’s innovation ecosystem is eroding. We have the opportunity — and obligation — to change that.

As we celebrate this milestone, we strive to maintain the efficacy of this vital piece of legislation.

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