Managing IP in universities: patents and the protection failure problem

Puay Tang, Dagmara Weckowska, Andre de Campos, Michael Hobday

Research output: Working paper


This project investigated the entrepreneurial activities of UK universities through in-depth interviews with the key university actors in a representative sample of 40 universities across the country. The project assessed the scale and extent of the ‘patent protection failure’ problem, which revolves around the issue of universities withdrawing and abandoning patent applications. It found that TTOs are becoming more selective in their patenting process. Our findings also shed new light on university commercialisation models, the “verdict” on TTOs performance, the role of metrics in accounting for HEI performance in IP commercialisation and the impact of academic entrepreneurialism on the behaviour of researchers. Our findings also contribute to the recent discussion about the utility of a regional grouping of TTOs and a “matchmaking” forum for unexploited university IP. The report concludes with policy recommendations for Government to consider. This study was sponsored by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBrighton
PublisherUniversity of Sussex
Number of pages65
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

This paper can be downloaded from the SPRU website. The paper was initially presented as a report to The Gatsby Foundation.


  • Intellectual property (IP)
  • Patents
  • Innovation


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