Patent Office data show that the number of individuals in Maryland receiving at least one patent in 2010 that was not assigned to a company was at an eight year high. Overall innovation in Maryland, however, has declined, when measured by the number of U.S. patents and patent applications issued to Maryland inventors. On a per capita basis, the numbers look even worse, as patents issued per Maryland resident declined about 3% when comparing 2011 numbers to 2010 levels. Moreover, Maryland ranks a lowly 37th when it comes to commercializing research and development, despite being at the top in terms of research and development spending per capita.
Aiming to reverse those numbers and spur innovation among Maryland researchers, and also facilitate commercialization of inventions made by the state's research universities, Gov. Martin O'Malley and nine Maryland lawmakers recently introduced legislation to create a Maryland Innovation Initiative. Introduced January 20, 2012, as Senate Bill 239, the measure would, among other things, provide funding to help participants in the Initiative assess intellectual property issues.
A hearing on the new bill is scheduled for February 7, 2012, in Annapolis.
The Initiative would promote the commercialization of research conducted by the state's research universities, encourage those universities to partner with each other and with federal research labs in Maryland on commercialization and other activities, and facilitate the transfer of technologies from universities to commercial industries in Maryland. Funding to run the Initiative would come from appropriations from the State's budget, participating universities, grants and funds from federal labs, and private grants, and could be used to support pre-commercial research on intellectual property to increase the likelihood of commercializing the intellectual property. Such research would likely include patent freedom to operate clearances.