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Lawmakers call on Biden administration to reconsider move to expand march-in rights

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is leading a call on the Biden administration to reconsider its move to expand federal agencies’ ability to seize patents on federally funded innovations under the Bayh-Dole Act.

Under the Act, only in narrow circumstances can the federal government claim march-in rights.  The government has never exercised these rights, but under a new set of guidelines proposed by the Biden administration, agencies could seize patents under a broad set of conditions and use these rights to control the price of drugs and other treatments.

“It is jarring to see the expanded range of possible circumstances in which the Administration seems intent on seizing patents held by small business owners — including those developed within the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR-STTR) programs,” reads a statement from a group of lawmakers led by Sen. Ernst.

According to the lawmakers, the new guidelines could discourage small businesses from competing for federal research funding, disincentivize the commercialization of research, and stifle the country’s innovation ecosystem at large.

“Americans benefit from small businesses across our country devoting immense time and resources, through federal R&D programs like SBIR-STTR, to pursue technological breakthroughs. Yet, the proposed interagency framework on march-in rights envisions federal agencies standing ready to snatch and license out intellectual property developed by small and large businesses alike,” the statement reads.

“Further, without the promise of secure ownership of intellectual property for those who acquire patents through the SBIR-STTR programs, fewer small businesses will be able to help federal agencies innovate to meet our nation’s critical technology goals. Research efforts are likely to fail without the ingenuity and work ethic of the small business community.”

According to a press release, the lawmakers are requesting clarity from the Biden administration on how the proposed framework would impact small businesses and their efforts to pioneer new technologies.

Source: Joni Ernst

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