Brad Watts Brad Watts
Vice President, Patents and Innovation Policy, Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), U.S. Chamber of Commerce


March 20, 2024


Collaboration between the private sector and government partners strengthens America's standing as the world’s innovation leader. Together, each pools their unique talents and resources to fuel discovery and invention in emerging fields of science and innovation. 

These public-private partnerships have led to the creation of new, transformative industries and impressive achievements across a range of fields—from space exploration to wireless communications—to the benefit of people worldwide. 

Choosing Confiscation Over Collaboration 

However, the entrepreneurs and businesses that participate in these joint ventures are sounding the alarm on a Biden Administration proposal to empower unelected, unaccountable government bureaucrats with the ability to “march-in” and confiscate a company's intellectual property (IP) if it received any federal funding for research, including in conjunction with universities. 

What's happening: The White House seeks to manipulate "march-in rights" under the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act to seize the private property of American business.  This is nothing more than a backdoor move to control prices. 

Why it matters: For over four decades, the bipartisan Bayh-Dole Act has fostered innovation by providing universities and small businesses with the tools to translate federal funding into tangible inventions and products that benefit the public. 

Contrary to what the Administration says, exercising march-in rights will not lower prices. Americans would see higher prices and a decline in the innovation that creates the products and technologies we rely on. 

How March-in Abuse Impacts American Innovation 

  • Government seizure of business assets: If enacted, this proposal could empower unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., to seize assets from private businesses, posing a grave threat to their stability and autonomy. 
  • U.S. leadership in critical technologies threatened: Seizing private property puts America's dominance in vital technologies at risk, endangering our position as a global innovator and potentially compromising national security. 
  • Bipartisan innovation policy in jeopardy: By tampering with the landmark bipartisan Bayh-Dole Act, these changes would sow seeds of uncertainty, eroding the foundation that has long fostered American innovation and economic growth and ending public-private collaboration as we know it. 
  • A hostile environment for U.S. innovation: The prospect of expanded government powers casts a shadow over the entrepreneurial landscape, creating an atmosphere of doubt and hindering the innovative spirit that drives progress. 

A Dip for CHIPS? 

In 2023, Congress passed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. The CHIPS Act aims to incentivize and support the production of semiconductors within the United States, strengthening the country's technological capabilities and national security, particularly given rising global competition and supply chain vulnerabilities. 

Misuse of march-in rights threatens America’s semiconductor leadership, potentially disrupting this important bipartisan initiative. This could undermine the long-term technological growth of our domestic semiconductor industry given the CHIPS Act’s focus on making significant investments in semiconductor R&D  

Closed-door Decision Making  

Seeking answers: The potential overhaul of a historic law without involving Congress raises serious concerns about transparency and accountability and fuels worries about potential hidden influences, further exacerbating uncertainty. 

  • FOIAs: Efforts are underway to shed light on these developments. The U.S. Chamber has filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to uncover details about the decision-making process and potential behind-the-scenes influences. 
  • And we’ve launched a coalition of business voices to push back on march-in abuse and price controls. 

Bottom Line 

The Biden Administration's push to expand government powers threatens to stifle innovation and erode America's competitive advantage. It will make prices higher for Americans and lead to fewer choices and less innovation, and misusing march-in rights to implement price controls could devastate industries and diminish our role as a global innovation leader. Preserving free enterprise and transparency is vital for sustaining progress and securing America's innovative future. 

About the authors

Brad Watts

Brad Watts

Brad Watts is the Vice President for Patents and Innovation Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC). He works with U.S. Chamber members to foster a political, legal, and economic environment where innovators and creators can invest in the next big thing for the benefit of Americans and the world.

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