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  • 1 Instituto Superior da Maia Maia Portugal
  • 2 Instituto Nacional de Engenharia e Tecnologia Industrial Lisboa Portugal
  • 3 Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão Lisboa Portugal
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Abstract  

This paper addresses scientists’ behaviour regarding the patenting of knowledge produced in universities and other public sector research organisations (PSROs). Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in patenting and licensing activities by PSROs. We argue that the whole process depends to a certain extent on scientists’ willingness to disclose their inventions. Given this assumption, we conduct research into individual behaviour in order to understand scientists’ views concerning the patenting of their research results. Data from a questionnaire survey of Portuguese researchers from nine PSROs in life sciences and biotechnology is presented and analysed and complemented with in-depth interviews. The results reveal that overall the scientists surveyed show a low propensity to become involved in patenting and licensing activities, despite the fact that the majority had no “ethical” objections to the disclosure of their inventions and the commercial exploitation of these. Perceptions about the impacts of these activities on certain fundamental aspects of knowledge production and dissemination are however divergent. This may account for the low participation levels. Furthermore, most scientists perceived the personal benefits deriving from this type of activity to be low. Similarly, the majority also believed that there are many difficulties associated with the patenting process and that they receive limited support from their organisations, which lack the proper competences and structures to assist with patenting and licensing.