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2014 Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology

Managing scientific patenting in the French Research Organizations during the Interwar period

mercredi 12 novembre 2014, par GGB

Résumé :

One of the main features of the academic entrepreneurship is undoubtedly the use of intellectual property rights and, more particularly, the patenting of scientific discoveries. If the early 1980s and the adoption of the Bayh -Dole Act in the United States are considered as a turning point, the use of the intellectual property rights by scientific organizations have to be taken into account in the long term, by integrating both discourses and practice. Besides, the US situation has to be put into perspective by considering other countries. Our paper analyzes how the intellectual property – and more precisely the patent – was managed by the French scientific institutions during the inter -war period, when new research organisations were created,like the French National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), and when the patent systems became progressively based on a corporate conception. Was the scientific patenting an essential element of this new process of scientific institutionalization ? How the French scientific institutions could be compared to other countries – the USA for instance – were patent policies were adopted by the universities as soon as the 1910s-1920s ? At first , we will try to know who were the French scientists, taking some patents, focusing our attention on the case of the French physicist Paul Langevin. Then we will remind the main features of the debates about the scientific property, when scholars from different countries demanded to establish a specific kind of intellectual property rights about the scientific discoveries. We will confront these debates, in which some very famous French scientists like Marie Curie, Émile Borel ou Paul Langevin, were involved, to the actual practices of the various French research organizations at the same time. We will be particularly interested in the National Office for Scientific and Industrial Research and Inventions and the new CNRS, having to mention the patent strategy of Frederic Joliot about the nuclear energy. This paper is part of a broader project about the history of the scientific patenting and it is based on the French National Archives (CNRS, Ministry of National Education, Jules-Louis Breton) and on the records of the UNESCO.

Oral Presentation :