FLC News

The FLC Remembers Senator Birch Bayh

The FLC would like to take a moment to remember the life and legacy of former Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana. Bayh passed away at the age of 91 on March 14 at his home in Easton, Maryland.

From 1963 – 1981, Bayh served three terms on Capitol Hill as one of the most productive legislators of his era. During his time in the U.S. Senate, Bayh sat as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, where he authored both the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which deals with issues related to presidential succession and disability, as well as the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which lowered the legal voting age to 18. Other efforts led by Bayh, which while unsuccessful were equally as groundbreaking, were the motions to ratify the Equal Rights Act (ERA) and eliminate the Electoral College.

Several other major laws that Bayh authored have significantly improved the lives of American women and youth, such as Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Most applicable to the FLC and the technology transfer (T2) community, however, was Bayh’s co-authoring of the Bayh-Dole Act. The Act, co-sponsored by Bayh and Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, was eventually adopted in December 1980, and is codified at 94 Stat. 3015, and in 35 U.S.C. § 200–212, and implemented by 37 C.F.R. 401.

Also known as the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, the Bayh-Dole Act permits a small business, university, or nonprofit institution to elect to pursue ownership of inventions arising under funding agreements with federal agencies. Large businesses are now also included, as directed by the 1987 Executive Order 12591.  In exchange for the right to elect, some of the contractor requirements are to:

  1. report subject inventions to the sponsoring agency;
  2. grant to the government a nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license to practice or have practiced for or on behalf of the United States the subject invention throughout the world; and
  3. in exclusive licenses to use or sell in the United States, the products embodying the invention will be manufactured substantially in the United States.

Prior to the Bayh-Dole Act, contractors who worked under federal research funding contracts or agreements were typically obligated to assign their research and development (R&D) to the federal government. Through the Bayh-Dole Act, the contractors’ ability to pursue ownership of an invention has opened the doors for thousands of government patents to be commercially licensed. In turn, the Bayh-Dole Act has allowed the public and private sectors to do business, and has led to the creation of new technologies, companies, jobs and industries. For example, since 1980, American universities have spun off more than 4,000 companies. According to survey data by the Association of University Technology Managers, in fiscal year 2012 alone $36.8 billion of net product sales were generated, and startup companies started by 70 academic institutions employed 15,741 full-time employees. The benefits of the Bayh-Dole Act are countless, and the T2 community has thrived since the enactment of Bayh and Dole’s vision.

To read more about the life and accomplishments of former Senator Birch Bayh, visit http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000254.

FLC News