Joe Biden Proposal to Seize Certain Patents Raises Alarms


A Biden administration proposal concerning patent rights from institutions that take funding from tax dollars has raised alarms at one manufacturing group in Michigan, a key electoral swing state.

The proposal in question, put forward by President Joe Biden‘s administration, concerns the federal government’s ability to exercise “march-in rights” under the Bayh-Dole Act.

Passed into law in 1980, the act allows certain entities, like universities and manufacturers, to own, patent, and profit from inventions produced by programs that received federal funding. The act also bestows the federal government with march-in rights, allowing it to compel these entities to license their federally-funded patents to other applicants or lower the prices associated with them.

Since the law’s inception, these rights have never fully been utilized, but under the proposed new framework, the federal government would be able to use Bayh-Dole march-in rights, with the Biden administration saying that this step would help bring down prescription drug prices, a key area of focus for the president since taking office.

Writing in a Sunday opinion column for the Traverse City Record-Eagle, Dave Worthams, director of employment policy for the Michigan Manufacturers Association, wrote that the “scary” proposal would take his state back to the 1970s, when the federal government could enact complete control over federally funded inventions, which he said led to only around 5 percent of the patents being licensed, compared to the 69 percent that are estimated to have been licensed since then.