IP Outreach Research > IP Use and Awareness


Title: International Intellectual Property Experiences: A Report of Four Countries
Author: [American Association for the Advancement of Science]


Year: 2007


Subject/Type: IP Protection
Focus: Access to Information, Copyright, Patents
Country/Territory: Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, United States of America
Objective: To examine the acquisition and creation of intellectual property (IP) in the scientific community, and the effect of IP protections on the conduct of scientific research.
Sample: 4000+ Germany/Japan/UK/US-based scientists/research professionals
Methodology: Web-based survey

Main Findings

Acquisition rates of protected intellectual property (IP) by scientists/researchers for use in their work during the last five years varied: 12% of Japanese respondents reported having acquired protected IP, 32% of their US colleagues, 27% in the United Kingdom, and 20% in Germany (NB: for methodological reasons, all data are only directly comparable between the US and Japan). Most respondents in all four countries reported that the technology acquired was primarily a research tool.

Japanese respondents reported fewer difficulties in acquiring IP than their US peers. In both Germany and the UK, about one in four respondents claimed to have experienced difficulties in acquiring IP. However, such difficulties virtually never forced scientists to abandon research. This lets the authors conclude that there is very little evidence of an “anticommons problem”, i.e. the possibility that, if accrued in significant numbers, IP protections in a particular discipline or field of study might impede the advancement of scientific research and prevent beneficial innovations from arising – contrary to the traditional reasons for seeking IP protection.

In all four countries surveyed, about nine in ten respondents had published their work. The most often evoked reasons for publishing were knowledge sharing, research funding, and academic advancement. Dissemination, prestige, timeliness and ease of retrieval influenced scientists’ decision regarding how or were to publish their work. Mostly, scientific work was published in peer-reviewed journals, and in some cases as well via researchers’ departments, above all in Japan. Informal methods of protecting scientific work included delaying its publication, not publishing it, or publishing it incompletely.

Although some researchers reported difficulties in accessing copyrighted scientific literature, a large majority of them agreed that access to the general body of scientific literature over the past three years had become easier. This perception was strongest in Japan, with almost three quarters agreeing.

Japanese scientists experienced the fewest difficulties with accessing data from publicly funded source (14%). In the UK, the US and Germany, about one in five respondents reported having experienced some form of difficulties.

[Date Added: Nov 20, 2008 ]