The impact of national legislative frameworks on the higher education sector's contribution to technological innovation is heavily disputed. This paper argues that legislative frameworks may stimulate the development of local practices for the management and exploitation of intellectual property (IP), which in turn determine the level of academic patenting. We present case studies of two comparable universities in each of four selected European countries with different histories of national IP legislation. A within-country analysis shows that a wider range and earlier development of local IP management and exploitation practices are accompanied by higher levels of academic patenting, and that increasing similarity of IP practices is associated with decreasing differences in patenting outputs. A preliminary cross-country analysis reveals an expansion in and increasing similarity of practices for IP management and exploitation in countries with different national IP framework histories. We conclude that adopting Bayh-Dole-like legislation may trigger the development of local IP practices, which stimulate patenting. However, it is not always sufficient and definitely not always necessary. The study concludes with some policy recommendations.