The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act went into effect in United States patent law on December 12, 1980. Among the various changes it made to patenting procedures, the measure which generally draws the greatest attention is a reversal in “presumption of title,” which as applied in the act means that small-business, non-profit, or university-level educational groups can be given preferential treatment in comparison to the federal government in judgments made concerning inventions created with federal funds.
Such an invention is called a “subject invention,” with the meaning that it is first “reduced to practice” while being funded to some degree by the federal government. The inventors can have the title to an invention created in such a setting while allowing the government to exercise certain rights in return. The provisions required by the Bayh-Dole Act were placed in Sections 200 through 212 of Article 35 of the United States Code, and were put into practice by Section 401 of Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations.