Intellectual Property - Puerto RicoTechnology transfer: the way forward AuthorsContributed by Ferraiuoli Torres Marchand & Rovira Eugenio J Torres-OyolaDecember 20 2010On October 15 2010 the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico approved Act 150 tosponsor and promote the participation of academics, professors and researchers fromthe University of Puerto Rico in the development of intellectual property and the transferof technology into industry. The assembly hopes to increase research into and thedevelopment of technology in Puerto Ricos academic arena, thereby creating newopportunities for companies and for the creation of jobs, and enabling new products tobe placed on the market, through the adoption of federal public policy as expressed in Laura Belendezstatutes such as the Small Business Patent Procedures Act, the Bayh-Dole Act and theCooperative Research and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) Act of 2004. The policy Maristella Collazo-Sotohas also been adopted by several US states, including Florida, Massachusetts, NewMexico and Oklahoma. With this long overdue step, Puerto Rico has moved in the right direction with regard to intellectual property and technology.Technology transfer is the process through which new technology is passed from theacademic realm into the public sphere for the publics benefit and enjoyment. One ofthe essential elements of this process is the ability of professors to license workscreated within the universities in order to further their development. Equally important isthe professors ability to consult with and work alongside companies in thedevelopment process and in the creation of intellectual property. Previously, Universityof Puerto Rico professors, researchers or academics were not allowed to license suchworks or work alongside commercial entities. Under the previous regime, professorsand alumni of the university carried out research activities that would often generatepatents and intellectual property with commercial potential, but which, because of thelegal prohibitions, could not be used for the benefit of society. As a direct result, theuniversitys progress has been hampered.Advances made in universities in fields such as medicine have the potential to yieldtremendous benefits for the population in general. Empowering academics to interactin the IP development process within industry, obtain licences and play a central role indisseminating new products into the public domain is a necessary next step in theevolution of this process. The transfer and growth of technology in Puerto Rico will beindispensable in the future economy of the island. Indeed, such considerations havebeen a driving force behind Puerto Rican public policy. Act 150 states that:"the public policy of promoting the academic participation in the development andtransfer of technology is to prevail and take preference over any other statute,regulation, rule, letter or other applicable body of law that may interfere, delay, limit orprohibit the transfer or commercialisation of technology that is a product of universitywork and/or research."Act 150 amends the Government Ethics Act of 1985. The Ethics Act was created, amongothers, in order to protect the integrity of the government and its officials work. Itexpressly prohibited contracts being made between government entities and the privatesector, and established penalties for public officials that failed to comply with itsimpositions.With the amendments contained within Act 150, the prohibitions on contracts andinteractions with the private sector will not apply to:l contracts established by an agency of the executive branch of the government for the acquisition of property rights of any literary or artistic works of art, as well as the patents or inventions of its employees; andl contracts, agreements and/or licences that are granted in order to facilitate the research, transfer of technology and commercialisation of the intellectual property developed by members of the university, provided that they are approved by the university president.