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Three University of Wisconsin Stem Cell Patents Rejected

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the i'm-so-torn dept.

Biotech 92

eldavojohn writes "A non-profit alumni group from the University of Wisconsin (WARF) has suffered a preliminary ruling against three of their recent patents regarding stem cells. Given that these patents have been upheld in prior rulings, there is a lot of speculation that they will be upheld in a future court case. From the PhysOrg article: 'The patents, which cover virtually all stem cell research in the country, have brought in at least $3.2 million and could net much more money before they expire in 2015, the newspaper said. Companies wanting to study the cells must buy licenses costing $75,000 to $400,000. The newspaper said WARF recently started waiving the fees if the research is conducted at universities or by non-profit groups.' Should universities (or groups within universities) be allowed to hold patents and intellectual property while at the same time gaining donations and grants as an educational institution — or for that matter government funds?"

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Research Exemption? (4, Interesting)

jakosc (649857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621815)

It's not clear to me that they ever had a case for charging Universities or Non-profit groups, so it's odd that they mention that they have "started waiving the fees"

IANAL, but doesn't the Patent Research Exemption specifically mean that research does *not* require a license. Even companies can work on research and clinical trials and they don't need a licence as long as they don't begin commercial manufacture of the product within the patent term?

Re:Research Exemption? (4, Insightful)

rhombic (140326) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622555)

IANAL, but doesn't the Patent Research Exemption specifically mean that research does *not* require a license. Even companies can work on research and clinical trials and they don't need a licence as long as they don't begin commercial manufacture of the product within the patent term?


There is no such thing as non-profit research at a university today, at least not in the life sciences. The reasons that non-profits are licensing these things is because THEY want to patent their inventions, and sell them to industry. If they don't have a license for the original research they did, they won't be able to sell it in turn. When the federal government started to encourage universities to patent the results of research off of NIH and NSF grants, and charge licensing fees, the whole idea of non-profit basic research died a sad death. Uni's are just for-profit research entities today, teaching is nearly irrelevant (most faculty consider it a burden & waste of their time), the junior faculty don't get paid much, & the post-docs and grad students are essentially slave labor, but the Profs that bring in big grants & patents are paid as much if not more than an industry.

Re:Research Exemption? (2, Interesting)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18625035)

I have a lot of the same concerns. And frankly since I paid for the research through my taxes I think I should own it through the agency of my government. The research results should belong to either the appropriate level of government or the university that employs the researcher, or some mix of the two. The exact mix could depend on where the money for constructing and maintaining the university, providing grants etc. came from. Hopefully those entities make the results available to others at no charge.

The argument that is frequently made is that the best and brightest will go to industry if they don't get something extra. Fine, pay them industry level wages. Why not? The added perks of tenure, relative freedom etc. should be more than enough to tip the balance towards the academic life. But the results of that work should belong to all of us. Whether or not the results should be freely available to industry is debatable and I can see good arguments for either side of that debate.

It should also be remembered that different places have different ways of supporting university research. Some make it very competitive, with universities requiring researchers to pay for the facilities they use and government grants only going to the cream of the crop. Others tend to provide basic infrastructure as part of being hired while government research funding is spread around as much as possible so that most researchers get some funding for their work.

Re:Research Exemption? (1)

evilRhino (638506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18625663)

Research done at American universities is often a way to subsidize the research and development for pharm companies (most of them are European) by using American tax dollars. The American public is really sensitive about this cost. Whenever I try to mention how government funding for stem cell research is actually corporate wellfare to the richest, most profitable industry, people ususally retort that if it'll improve their quality of life in the long run, they don't care.

Re:Research Exemption? (1)

OakLEE (91103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624619)

No, experimental use is only a defense if the alleged infringer's use was either for his amusement, to satisfy idle curiosity, or for strictly philosophical inquiry; and did not further the alleged infringer's legitimate business. Non-commercial research by a university has already been held to be a furtherance of legitimate business, and thus it is not covered by the defense. See Madey v. Duke. [harvard.edu]

Why not? (4, Insightful)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621871)

"Should universities (or groups within universities) be allowed to hold patents and intellectual property while at the same time gaining donations and grants as an educational institution -- or for that matter government funds?"

Why not? I would prefer a university to hold a pattern any day than any corporate - at least, they are letting other NPOs and universities use it without charging.

In fact, give them more funding to do more research. Let them grab patterns before corporates get there first.

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622037)

I would prefer a university to hold a pattern any day than any corporate

You are operating under the assumption that a university will act differently (better) than the average corporation.

As this example points out, there is a direct link between patents and revenue generation for most universities. Why would a university miss an opportunity to generate revenue?

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18622237)

True. But even if after assuming that they may be as bad as any other corporation, as long as they are letting other NPOs/Universities use it without charging, they score a gazillion points over anything else.

Re:Why not? (3, Insightful)

john82 (68332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622767)

GP: I would prefer a university to hold a pattern any day than any corporate

P: You are operating under the assumption that a university will act differently (better) than the average corporation.

Both of you hold the assumption that a university is not a corporation. Whether or not it has such a status in the legal sense is immaterial. In every other respect, universities are corporations. There are for-profit and not-for-profit examples. Some are good "corporate" citizens, and others are not. They produce product(s) and attempt to generate value for their stakeholders. But to think of universities (as a class) to be a less corruptible entity than corporations is delusional.

Corporations vs universities strikes me as a "distinction without a difference".

Re:Why not? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624255)

Agreed. I find it quaint to describe universities as being "non-profit". Sure, they don't distribute their profits to shareholders, but come on. Remind me how much they charge in tuition? Remind me how often it becomes ABSOLUTELY VITAL to get the latest edition of the calculus book? Remind me last year's budget for dorm renovation? Remind me the cost of goods at campus shops? Remind me the football ticket sales revenues? Remind me how much they get in exchange for letting marketers pollute the campus with their crap?

At least with corporations, if there is serious waste, a "raider" can engineer a hostile takeover, eliminate it, and keep most of the savings from doing so.

Re:Why not? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18626929)

>Remind me how much they charge in tuition?

U. Wisc? About $3,000 per semester for max. load. It's on the high side for state institutions, but I'd hardly agree that this is a factor keeping people out of college who otherwise qualify.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18624997)

Even if they milk the patent, UofW is a state uni, which means that it helps to subsidize the school. Straight from licensees to taxpayers, as far as I'm concerned.

Re:Why not? (4, Informative)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622303)

I would prefer a university to hold a pattern any day than any corporate

I think we will all agree on this point. The real issue is the university charging license fees. I actually work at a university and we recently had a big seminar on intellectual property. You can really tell that the administration is salivating at the thought of an extra revenue stream.

And I really can't blame them - everybody is strapped for cash these days. I'm just concerned that it's a slippery slope. I would hate to see the day that universities pass up on research because they don't see the ability to make money from it. "oh sorry professor Jones, we aren't going to allow you to research that. We really need you to focus on things that we can license. Thanks."

So the point of this seminar they made us attend was that everything we do belongs to the university (and I agree) and that we can't release anything without their permission. They want first stab at it so that they can decide if it's a money-maker. Now in the past, I have come up with a neat little algorithm or something and I've just posted it on usenet, or I've answered a technical question on usenet. Theoretically, I'm no longer allowed to do that. My expertise has value and theoretically the university has the right to charge for it.

So the concern is that there is a chilling effect.

Look at what has happened to college sports teams. They are no longer about having fun or enriching students' educations by giving them experience with a team dynamic. College sports teams are about making money for the university - which is kind of strange because every part of a university should be dedicated to education. Sports could be an important component, but it's like they have been spun off into something else.

Re:Why not? (1)

thridur (132896) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622481)

If college sports were about making money, they'd only have two sports - football and men's basketball. Those are the only two that make money and end up supporting the costs of the other sports through with their revenue.

I think there's definitely a chance for universities to mismanage or mishandle intellectual property, but I think those universities are the minority. Research funding is already slanted towards research that can be turned into something marketable some day. Is there anything wrong with that bias?

Re:Why not? (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622695)

Research funding is already slanted towards research that can be turned into something marketable some day. Is there anything wrong with that bias?

In my opinion, absolutely not. What good is research to those not involved in academia if it provides no benifit to them? Public universities are there to serve the public and by providing something that can turn into something marketable they, in theory, are adding to the quality of life of those taxpayers funding the unviersity. One can argue all day long about consumerisim hurting people, but I doubt anyone that recieves a medical implant/procedure or drug that saves their life based on research that started in a university would be complaining.

Re:Why not? (1)

VE3MTM (635378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623463)

What good is research to those not involved in academia if it provides no benifit[sic] to them?

How about a base for potential future research that may have practical applications?

Applied or pure, research is research. Even if our collective short-sightedness doesn't let us see applications of pure research, we're still better off for having done it, because it may lead to future applied research that will have practical applications.

Re:Why not? (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623551)

What good is research to those not involved in academia if it provides no benifit to them?

Are you really that narrow-minded?? First of all, everyone else in this thread has been talking about commercial viability (stuff you can sell) and now all of a sudden you use the word benefit - are you for real? Do you really hear "commercial viability" and morph that into "benefit" inside you brain?? Come on!

All research and all knowledge benefits society as a whole. Just because you can't immediately sell it, that doesn't mean there is no benefit. Do I really need to list thousands upon thousands of examples of research that couldn't be sold, that later led to enormous benefits to every human being on the planet? Do I really need to do that??

I can just imagine you standing over someone's shoulder saying, "hey, what are you working on? Networking two computers together?? Can we sell that? Of course we can't, because nobody owns a computer. Get to work on something that we can sell!"

"hey, what's that you're working on? You're using a microscope to look at little invisible bugs? That's ridiculous! We can't sell germ theory! Get to work on something we can sell!"

Re:Why not? (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624505)

Are you really that narrow-minded?? First of all, everyone else in this thread has been talking about commercial viability (stuff you can sell) and now all of a sudden you use the word benefit - are you for real? Do you really hear "commercial viability" and morph that into "benefit" inside you brain?? Come on!

First of all, for a product to be commercially viable the product needs to provide a benefit (or at least a percieved benefit). You can argue all you want on that point, but it is a basic principle of economics.

All research and all knowledge benefits society as a whole. Just because you can't immediately sell it, that doesn't mean there is no benefit. Do I really need to list thousands upon thousands of examples of research that couldn't be sold, that later led to enormous benefits to every human being on the planet?

Sure, basic research leads to more research which may lead to a commercially viable product. Heck, knowledge is good just for for the sake of knowing. But think of the average Jane and Joe sitting at home. What good does a research paper on the latest dicovery really provide them? If that research leads to something tangible, whatever it is, that they can use in their life then it is providing them a benefit. If they read scientific journals for enjoyment then yes, it does, but most people (most people also don't read /.) don't sit around reading journals for the heck of it. In most cases, for that research to get from a university lab to the average joe requires commercialization, which usually means patenting and licensing. Hence, commercial viable and benefit are tied together.

Countless examples of basic research turning into a commercially viable product way down the line do exist, but until the become commecially viable it provides little to no benefit to the average joe. Your examples are actually perfect examples of what I am talking about. Sure, the microscope led to many great discoveries that have saved countless lives, but until someone made something practical (ie antibiotics) society as a whole didn't benefit. Did the discovery of germs help anyone? No, the development of antibiotics and sanitation practices did.

I never said that universities should focus all of their research on commercially viable topics. Basic research is a good thing. I only implied that patents help foster research making it from the lab to the end users and until that end product/practice is out the research is of little use to most of society. The real benefit comes from practical applications, not the research itself or some journal article. Sure the research and journals are needed in order to get to the end, and I never said that these steps aren't needed.

Maybe you should look into the Bayh-Dole act a little. The premise behind it was to get government funded research from the lab to the people that paid for it (ie the tax payers). Almost anyone that has done any subsiquent research on the outcome of the act has said that it has been a success, although many hoped that more would be commercialized out of it because there are countless commercial applications for basic research that have yet to be commercialized for the benefit of society.

define "anyone" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18630047)

Do you really mean, a select few "someone's"? This "anyone" guy, on a global scale, is a rapidly diminishing pool of people in a rapidly rising world population. This patenting every other third whisker and fart in biology is causing this "great medical care" to be limited to the top few per cent of the "humans". We are already seeing entire nations telling these big companies (and their proxy tax payer supported uni labs) to stuff it when it comes to excessive medical fees because of patents, and are using the WTO loophole that allows it. A gouge is a gouge, medical care has turned into this huge gougers paradise..

    And it's not like they are sitting on their hands, either, those nations are turning out scientists and engineers faster than the US turns out third rate football players, slicked back MBAs and rap "singers". This medical gouging and especially the patenting of LIFE,the patenting of nature, will lead to the decline of US research as it becomes a patent minefield, suitable only for stock backdating crooked CEOs and lawyers, just like software is rapidly approaching.

You are either for humanity, or for the "greed is good" vultures, pick one. Gouging people because they are desperate for medical care is *evil*. All medical research should be shared, period. We need something like a GPL/open source model for medical research.

Re:Why not? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622621)

I would hate to see the day that universities pass up on research because they don't see the ability to make money from it. "oh sorry professor Jones, we aren't going to allow you to research that. We really need you to focus on things that we can license. Thanks."
That day is already here. Many professors are hired because of the revenue-generating potential of their research -- whether by licensing potential or the ability to get grants. The research is pre-screened by the administration by hiring professors who they know will bring in the cash.

This may not be true at all universities, and it's definitely not true for all disciplines -- but it is especially true for pharma (I've seen) and food science (I've heard) research.

Of course, ou can;t believe everything you've seen and heard, but it's long been known in academic circles that hiring and tenure depend not only upon published work, but also on ability to bring home the bacon.

Re:Why not? (2)

doktor-hladnjak (650513) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622963)

Grant money is the life blood of scientific research at major universities (at least in the US). The money for equipment, graduate student stipends/tuition, supporting research and facilites staff simply has to come from somewhere else since endowments and state funding (in the case of public universities) are not enough on their own. It's not uncommon today for less than a third of the total budget of a public university to come from state or local government sources. Any academic department that wants to be successful at research needs to get those grants so that they can compete for the graduate students who do the real work down in the trenches of that business.

Re:Why not? (4, Informative)

sdjc (1038542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623015)

I think there might have been a confusion here. In most cases, you are right, the university owns the intellectual property. That is, once it has become codified IP (i.e., embodied in a patent, copyright, etc.). The researchers (i.e., inventors) are all named on the patent and usually obtain a share of potential revenues once initial costs are cleared. However, part of academic freedom stipulates that the university researcher has the right to bring his findings in the public domain without seeking to protect it - unlike typical employers where the employee must disclose any findings and cannot usually 'give away' advice or product of their work away independantly. The cooling effect is usually do to misinterpretations and the perceived threat that university will force researchers to seek patents (something that is, to this date, against most universities' mission statements). I recommend Benkler's The Wealth of Networks [http] (freely available) and Krimsky's 'Science in the Private Interest' for a good analysis of the current situation.

Re:Why not? (1)

s4ck (895807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623299)

mod parent up for the love of god!

Re:Why not? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18625573)

However, part of academic freedom stipulates that the university researcher has the right to bring his findings in the public domain without seeking to protect it - unlike typical employers where the employee must disclose any findings and cannot usually 'give away' advice or product of their work away independantly.

This is not the case at the Univ. of Rhode Island. Anything you do on their campus, network, with their grad students, etc. they try to claim ownership of.

Re:Why not? (1)

sdjc (1038542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18626019)

Please take a look at Rhode Island U's IP Policy manual [uri.edu] . Section 10.40.18 states: "The Board of Governors shall own and have all rights to any inventions, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights discovered, created, or developed by University personnel using University time, resources, facilities, or equipment, except as otherwise provided in this policy." This is to say that any IP -- once it is codified -- is owned by the university. The researcher can opt to not seek protection in the first place (simplest way is to publicly disclose the information) and thereby does not have to abide by these rules. Now, whether or not RIU is applying pressure for its researchers to seek IP protection is another debate.

Re:Why not? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629277)

This is to say that any IP -- once it is codified -- is owned by the university.

I wish I could agree with your interpretation, but I think your use of the word "codified" isn't something supported in the text. Trade secrets (I believe) and copyrights (I know) don't have to be specifically claimed on a piece of work in order to apply. They come along automatically with the creation of a qualifying piece of work. Similarly, something is an "invention" the moment it's created, regardless of the creator's plans to patent it.

Having the board of governors lay claim to anything a student thinks while on the URI campus is not, in my opinion, a rule that's optimized for the dissemination of knowledge. It's also not particularly motivating to would-be inventors.

The lessons I take away from this IP policy are:

  • Don't do any real innovation using their facilities. Do them in your apartment on you computer.
  • Be thankful that students aren't asked to consent to the IP Policy.

Re:Why not? (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18626963)

This is probably wrong in most cases.

University of Wisconsin is actually one of the exceptions. UW does not take assignment of any inventions provided that there are not other intervening rights and obligations. For example, UW (and per the arrangement WARF) takes assignment of federally funded inventions because Bayh-Dole says it must.

Because of this (and for other reasons), universities, including UW, have policies requiring invention disclosure, whether the professor will actually get to keep title or not.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18624853)

everybody is strapped for cash these days.

As opposed to those other days, when there was plenty of spare cash for everyone?

The phrase "these days" is almost always semantically empty, especially if it's about how hard "these days" are.

Re:Why not? (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18625193)

These are serious concerns. A long time ago the Canadian government started "encouraging" university researchers to do more applied research instead of basic research. For example suddenly we had guys in the physics department looking at ways to improve industrial processes. That's not necessarily a bad thing but for basic research being left undone because of the relative ease of getting money for applied research. People go to school for a long time to become faculty members and if the choice they have is "do applied research and you'll get lots of money for facilities, support personnel etc." and "do basic research and maybe you'll get some money you can scrimp by on and if you're lucky get some research done under really trying and frustrating conditions" then human nature is going to lead to applied being chosen over basic more and more often. That's a huge mistake for society to make IMHO.

Re:Why not? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623711)

Right, as long as the majority of licensing profits go back into research, then what's the problem here? Reward the universities that come up with useful things. Give them a goal to strive toward. If all they got was government money, they wouldn't have nearly as much ambition except that from modesty and the goodness of their hearts.

Patents, profits, startups, and industry relations (1)

kninja (121603) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624091)

I agree. If the University provided a technology that was useful to you, why shouldn't you support further research in that area.

Usually the licensing revenue is divided like this: The professor who discovered it gets 20-33%, the Department he's in get's 20-33%, and the university administration takes the rest to cover legal costs, and random university budget things (like maybe the arts).

I know the professors who generate a lot of patents get the red carpet rolled out for them, but that is because they are usually great for industry relations and creating local startups, not just for producing patents for the university.

Re:Why not? (1)

Traa (158207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623827)

Wouldn't it be better if Universities where exempt from patents. This way they could take existing research (which was possibly patented) and continue working on this and refining it without the hassle and limitations of patents.

I mean, it's all fine that the University of Wisconsin is offering their patented technology free of charge to other Universities, but they didn't have to. I'm guessing that most Universities can't afford the $75,000 to $400,000, or wouldn't want to waist their research funds on this buy-in. I'm also guessing that these fees are tiny compared to potential license fees for similar technology if in the hands of a for-profit company.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18630205)

National labs. Bechtel.

ac

Reasons (3, Insightful)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621911)

The reasons given were that the patents were:

... obvious to one of ordinary skill ...

It seems to me that some business model patents and computer patents that were accepted should have been rejected for the same reasons.

Re:Reasons (2, Insightful)

theantipop (803016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624077)

The level of ordinary skill varies depending on the art in question. You cannot make a fair judgment between these fields as the level of skill in biotech research is much higher than your standard fair programmer or business manager. The education levels and average expertise are leagues apart.

I apologize if you weren't trying to make this assumption, but it bears repeating regardless.

Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (4, Insightful)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621971)

I'm not too interested in the ethics or legality of obtaining patents from research funded by grants from non-governmental funding sources. That should be a contract item between the granter and grantee. But research results funded by government sources should be open and non-patentable. I've paid for the research once through my taxes. I should not have to pay for it again. Software developed using government funds should be open sourced using a BSD style license so that anyone can include it in either closed source or open source apps.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (4, Insightful)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622105)

These patents bring money in to the university so they can continue to do research. This supports the research, and lets more research get done. The government doesn't give nearly enough money for all this research to happen without the help of money from patents.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (2, Insightful)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622161)

Are you saying then that you don't need the governments support? If you don't, then decline it.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622397)

No where did I say that; I said that if it was purely governmental support it wouldn't work, since there isn't enough money to go around. I was implying that we need both governmental money and money from patents.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (2, Insightful)

Checkmait (1062974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622389)

I understand your point of view but I object to my tax dollars going to an organization which is collecting money through patent licenses. I have no problem with government-funded research or an increase in government funding for research, but if a research organization is going to patent their research (certainly not a very ethical practice [remember the genome patents]), then they lose their government funding and have to make their own money for research with their licensing.

p>It's the same with large companies such as MS or IBM (or smaller companies as in this case). We don't want the government handing out money to a corporation, such as one which engages in a lot of R&D, simply because they are doing research.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622499)

Those are the conditions under which I am willing to give you some of my hard earned money. If you don't like the conditions, you are free to decline government funding. I don't know what the current law is, but IIRC, it used to be that patents granted to scientists at US Nat'l Labs had to be put into the public domain for anyone to use.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (2, Insightful)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622543)

Sure, they can make money this way, but what you're talking about is essentially a government granted monopoly on an idea used to subsidize research. This sort of monopoly has lots of hidden costs for the economy and an unknown benefit for the patent holder. Why not keep everything clear and open? Don't allow the patent. If they idea is really great, it should be easy for the research group that discovered it to get big grants in the future.

This is the Adam Smith warning all over again. Government granted monopolies seem like cheap ways of subsidizing desired activities (research, in this case), but they end up costing a fortune. It's like funding things on bond issuance. The government regularly gives money to the NSF and the NIH because science has a solid track record of providing big returns on the investment.

Locking up ideas in patetents like this is, to me, morally reprehensible too. It inhibits the free flow of ideas by regulating techniques, knowledge, and even the conclusions one can draw from data. I believe that the cost to society of the patent is too high. People invented things before they were granted monopolies, and they will continue to do so after those monopolies are removed. As the pace of innovation accelerates, more people encounter roadblocks caused by this unwise funding. And its exactly that they are paying for the discoveries of a past era through royalties now.

Intellectual property of all sorts is absurd. The idea could sink our culture.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (2, Insightful)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623293)

Or, my cynical, university-employed, side says, allows administrators to indulge their Edifice complexes with a pot of money lacking strings, while still demanding the science/engineering departments bring in more grant money so they can skim it for overhead. Stanford [time.com] is not the only university that's been using "overhead" to panel and decorate the administrators' offices.

(disclaimer: TIME chosen because more authoritative publications are behind subscription firewalls; disclaimer 2: sour grapes due to working in facilities deemed "unsafe by modern standards for both teaching and research")

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

DigitalCrackPipe (626884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622275)

You make a good point, but one counterpoint - if the research is free for any non-commercial use, but charges fees for commercial entities, the fees can go to support research that government dollars no longer have to pay for (as long as the money go to items similar to the original research...).

Not to start a GPL vs BSD license argument, but I do think there are multiple ways to ensure that the people get value for tax dollars (as opposed to corporations getting value for tax dollars that may not be paid).

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (2, Insightful)

Tilzs (959354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622347)

The government already funds all sorts of research in the form of defense contracts to corporate bidders. Those corporations can patent their innovations. You aren't going to see open source DoD funded missile guidance systems up on sourceforge any time soon.

National Security Exception Is Not Unreasonable (1)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622601)

I am willing to make an exception for national security reasons. This kind of exception is common in FOI requests and (sometimes too common) in court cases. But the details can be covered by trade secret types of exclusions. The grantee or contractor should not be allowed to receive patents for such publicly funded work.

Everything is national security (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623837)

See, if my stem cell research gets into the hands of the terrorists, then they'll be able to build biological weapons to wipe out all red-blooded Americans!

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

Tucan (60206) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622351)

Then you misunderstand what it is that you and I, as taxpayers, are paying for through government grants. We are paying for the immediate costs of the personnel, equipment, and overhead to carry out the work. In exchange for this support we get the benefit of the knowledge generated through the research and disseminated through peer-reviewed publications. In some specific cases, the support may include a stipulation that the government gets a piece of the intellectual property pie. However, in the vast majority of cases, the ideas for the research pre-date even the application for grant support by a large margin and the control of the ideas (and thus the intellectual property) stays with the researchers and their institutions. Licenses are paid to *use* the IP, they are not a purchase of the IP per se.

Splitting Hairs (1)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622917)

Licenses are paid to *use* the IP, they are not a purchase of the IP per se.

Whatever. I paid for the research to develop the idea. I want a free license to use the IP in any way I see fit, including commercial development.

Where the money goes (1)

Khammurabi (962376) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622889)

The money generated by WARF licensing is used to fund further research efforts. Faculty members do not have to patent their inventions through the WARF building, but it seems beneficial to do so. From the website: 20% of the gross goes back to the inventor, and 75% of the net (after WARF costs) go back to the inventor's research lab that produced the invention [www.warf.ws] .

The main reason why university research like this should be allowed to be licensed by the university itself, is that the public gains a direct benefit (more research money for the system). If the invention was simply free to the public, it would most likely just be exploited by industries as free research to make profit off of. The public gains nothing of real value, and businesses get free inventions to fleece the public with.

I wouldn't be so hard on UW:

Wisconsin ranked first among universities in nonfederal research support, attracting $329.5 million from nonfederal sources. [wisc.edu] Of that, state and local governments funded research to a level of about $35.9 million, industry provided $17.9 million, private gifts and grants accounted for $210.2 million, and other sources provided $65.5 million in 2004.
It's doing what it can to maximize nonfederal funding.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623913)

That's what happened pre-Bayh-Dole (think before the 1980s).

The problem? Very few government sponsored inventions were ever commercialized.

The other big problem? Universities didn't like the idea of giving up all their rights to sign a small grant. Universities also don't like to do the same for small commercial grants.

The really big problem? The people that know the most about the invention aren't the people in the granting government agency, but rather the inventor/inventor's institution. If you take away their rights, it's less likely they're going to be willing to seek out commercial opportunities.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624945)

If you take away their [the universities] rights...

I'm not taking away their rights. By accepting my taxes and not letting me use the IP I paid for, they have taken away my rights!

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18626841)

>By accepting my taxes

Do you pay taxes in Wisconsin? I assume you are aware that federal money doesn't actually fund grants for stem cell research.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18626845)

That's only sort of right.

Under your theory anything that's subsidized should be owned by the taxpayers. Never pay for food again! Hey, wanna see my nice f-16?

Moreover, ownership is usually representative of the contribution to the overall process. The fear is that if you accept your premise, then universities would rarely (probably) ever accept small research grants.

Finally, if you even bothered to look at Bayh-Dole, the US government gets a license to use intellectual property created with federal funds. Almost every university-license agreement involving federal funds recognizes the federal rights.

However, the hESC in this case were not created with Federal funds. Thomson was very careful about that.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

Kuvagh (947832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624183)

Do you pay taxes in Wisconsin? I live in Madison, and I'm proud that the first human embryonic stem cell line was derived here in 1998. In 1995, the Dickey Amendment prohibited the use of federally appropriated funds for use in research in which human embryos are created or destroyed. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that Wisconsinites footed the bill for this. Perhaps license fees could be reduced or waived for organizations which operate in Wisconsin. Madison has a growing biotech district.

Re:Gov't Funded Research Should Be Non-Patentable (1)

CKW (409971) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624827)

> I've paid for the research once through my taxes.

And with the revenue *more* research will be done FOR YOU with LESS of your taxes.

Who pays taxes? Mostly citizens through income tax. Who benefits from research? Everyone. What's everyone's share of "taxes" and "benefits"? Who knows exactly where the dividing line is between "average taxpayers" paying more money than benefit derived - vs big corporations paying tax money as compared to benefit they derive.

I'm guessing that very very few individual taxpayers and small corporate taxpayers (who probably pay 90% of the taxes) derive any benefit at all from your proposal. I'm guessing that only big rich companies actually come out ahead by not having to pay "relatively small" fees to use the fruits of research. Why the hell are the 90% (tax wise) of the rest of us funding freebees for big corporations?

Fuck yeah make them pay!!

The newspaper said... (1)

spankey51 (804888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621979)

"The newspaper said WARF recently started waiving the fees if the research is conducted at universities or by non-profit groups."
-Just your friendly neighborhood Klingon doing his part to ensure fair use to non-profit groups the world over!

Warf has had patents since the 1930's I believe (4, Informative)

markk (35828) | more than 7 years ago | (#18621985)

WARF is independent legally from U. Wisconsin, and it has held patents for at least 60 years. Warfarin (Coumadin) was originally patented by Warf long ago. A lot of vitamin technology (producing them, etc.) was also. They are basically the research trust fund of the University. That is, they get a piece of the patents from researchers at Un. of Wisconsin and then distribute the money as grants to UW researchers. I think virtually all big Universities have similar structures.

Whether these patents were good is another thing, I'm kind of hoping they go on obviousness or previous technology, because if they go the only software patent that would even match them might have been RSA. If I had any trust in the patent system to be consistent I would be for this rejection (speaking as a Wisc graduate) and as a principle I guess I still am.

Re:Warf has had patents since the 1930's I believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18624035)

60 years???????!!!!!!!!!!!
What is this crap??!!! Patents were only intended to provide an advantage for a few years(exclusive rights, limited duration), not generations. They exist to create a chance for an individual(limited resources) to make money on an idea/invention without being crushed/robbed by larger groups(many resources/fewer ethics). Basically giving those that couldn't otherwise compete a chance to. It also was to get the ideas out into the public record to enhance the rest of the community.
When larger groups(universities/corporations/millionaires) are doing all the patenting then its time is over.
Publicly paid research should guarantee unlimited public access. If you want to control it, don't take public money. You are paid well to do research, why should you get anymore?
Patents used to be a 10 minute pass, now its an "extra life".

Re:Warf has had patents since the 1930's I believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18625355)

Not the same patents you idiot, he meant WARF has been in the business of patenting UW research for the past 60 years. Don't Be A Dolt.

Wrong on many levels... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18622009)

This whole thing is wrong on so many levels. To start off: Did these people invent stem cells? The whole patent system is absurdly abusive. It was intended to protect small inventors, not alumni groups, universities or corporations. It has become an evil institution that does the opposite. It should be abolished.

Tragedy of the Commons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18622035)

Should universities (or groups within universities) be allowed to hold patents and intellectual property while at the same time gaining donations and grants as an educational institution -- or for that matter government funds?"
The tragedy of the Commons shows us that ideas area a finite common resource which will just be wasted if they are not priced appropriately. I mean you could see ideas simply discarded along the side of the road if they weren't worth as much as the paper they were printed on. Think if Newton's family still held the intellectual rights to his laws of motion, they could impose licenses on inertia. This would be a great boon to society, since those at rest would no longer be economically viable and those in motion might as well just stay in motion making as much money as they can from their "motion capital". We wouldn't have to worry about all this moral relativity stuff either, since Einstein could have never afforded a "physics license" on a patent clerk's salary. A much simpler world we would live in.

Public funding of research should belong to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18622163)

THE PUBLIC! I have been griping about this for years now...... You use taxpayers money for research then get to patent your results and keep all of the rewards. Sounds like another fleecing of the American middle class.... Now I understand that if you've paid for the research then you are wholly entitled to the reward.... I say bullshit!!!!

Re:Public funding of research should belong to (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622407)

Public funding of research should belong to THE PUBLIC!

In essence it does. The public "owns" the university, therefore when the university owns a patent the public owns it as well. The problem with not patenting research is that if it can't be protected it usually never makes into practical use. Whaat good is research to joe public when he doesn't ever see a practical use for it? Sure, some research does fall out of this scope (climate change for example), but for something that can become a tangible product that suits a market need it doesn't do any good to just publish a paper on it if there is no way I can get my hands on it as a potential users. A great example is medical devices. Universites do tons of research on these, but there is no incentive for the makers of these products to go through the trouble of getting FDA approvial if everyone else can build the same device. Hence most research ends up being just that... just research with no practical device, drug, or other tangible product comming out of it.

You can argue about our patent system all you want and how it needs modifications and I will not object, but intelectual property rights still need to exist and currently the only legal method to protect a technology is through patents or secrecy. I would rather the universities patent something than keep their research secret.

Rhetorical statements (1)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622931)

I agree with most of your statement. The public "owns" the university, and universities should be able to patent their discoveries just as corporations can. (As a side note: many corporations also receive tax money, and are able to receive patents on the results. There are entire projects in the DoD, for example, based entirely on funding "small" businesses for the purposes of business growth.)

However:

*Lots* of things are produced with no "intellectual property" protection. Cars, food, sneakers, bubble-gum, houses, aspirin, and bad comedians are just a few of things produced without protectionism. There are *lots* of things that require time, money, and effort to get to market, and yet they *do* get to market just the same. I think the world would see more "innovation"[1] without patents.

[1] A word so overused, it's ceased to mean anything, like saying "booger" over and over.

Re:Rhetorical statements (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623371)

*Lots* of things are produced with no "intellectual property" protection. Cars, food, sneakers, bubble-gum, houses, aspirin, and bad comedians are just a few of things produced without protectionism.

Cars? Look up Ford, its subsidiaries, and suppliers on the USPTO, I am sure that you will find a pretty big list. Sure, the overall concept is no longer covered, but they get a design patent for every new model, they patent all of the new gadgets, and the list goes on and on.

I will agree that many products are produced without patents, but bubble gum is covered by trade secrets much like Coke. Asperin is a great example of a marketable item with no IP protection at all. Good marketing can incent a company to produce a product without protection, but for a new product that has not met the market test it is difficult to get the ball rolling within an organization (or if a new company to get funding) if you can't protect your intelectual property. I have met with lot's of VC's (as much as people hate them they do serve a useful purpose) and if you are trying to get money to start a company based on a new technology they won't even talk to you if you don't have some type of protection for the technology (usually a patent or two, but sometimes they might agree that keeping it secret is better).

Innovation would occur without patents, but I would not agree that more innovation would. Patents actually force disclosure of the technology in question which allows others to build off of that idea. Trade secrets (the other main form of protection) make this much more difficult. Sometimes patents do get in the way of progress when the holder refuses to license it to others trying to build off of that idea. I don't really have a solution to this problem, but some middle ground needs to be found.

Hehehe... bad comedians...

huh? (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622189)

The patents, which cover virtually all stem cell research in the country
What? Are they claiming they invented the test tube or the petri dish?

Why not? (3, Informative)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622195)

Should universities (or groups within universities) be allowed to hold patents and intellectual property while at the same time gaining donations and grants as an educational institution -- or for that matter government funds?

If non-profits (particularly universities) hold patents that are funded by donantions and grants they can, in theory, reduce their need for these sources of funds. The Bayh-Dole Act provided an avenue for this and actually encourages universities to license their technologies.

I am currently a research assitant for the Technology Commercialization Lab (a group that works closely with the Office of Technology Commercialization which governs patent rights for research conducted at the university) at my university and this is part of what we are supposed to do. We try to help professors in either starting a new company based on their research in order to develop a commercial product or to license it to a third party. The university gets 33% of the proceeds, the department gets 33%, and the professor gets 33% of any licensing fees paid to the university. In a research orinted university these proceeds have the ability to add up to a lot of cash to help fund further research, new facilities, and pay salaries. At my university we haven't produced many "killer techs" that have turned into large sums of money, but it can happen. Stanford and MIT (along with others) have both recieved significant sums of money from licensing patents.

1% left (1)

iceperson (582205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622965)

Can I get that last percent?

Re:1% left (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623045)

Can I get that last percent?

That goes to me... oh how I wish :-) Sorry, I left out the 1/3% for each party.

Re:1% left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18624637)

No that 1% goes to the graduate students who actually did all the work.

yes, I want govt funded work to remain patentable (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622475)

Otherwise, an individual or corporation not barred from receiving patents will appropriate the most valuable publicly funded results - or in this case, the public's DNA itself.

These results took many years to evolve. Why shouldn't the fathers of this research get the credit they deserve?

Who pays? (2, Informative)

Hittite Creosote (535397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622635)

"Should universities (or groups within universities) be allowed to hold patents and intellectual property while at the same time gaining donations and grants as an educational institution -- or for that matter government funds?"

If the government isn't going to pay 100% of the cost of the research, yes. My last research project was funded at 80% of cost. Where do they expect the other 20% to come from if we can't profit from our research?

Re:Who pays? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18623405)

You touch on a key point in that a lot of Federal Grants also require some in-kind funding/partial match from the receiving institution. At public universities that money isn't going to come from base funds (which are primarily tied up in positions not general supplies & expense budgets)so having a foundation similar in function to WARF is where it comes from.

Re:Who pays? (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630279)

If the government isn't going to pay 100% of the cost of the research, yes. My last research project was funded at 80% of cost. Where do they expect the other 20% to come from if we can't profit from our research?

Consider yourself lucky. You've hit the gravy train. In Astronomy, you're lucky if you can cover 50% of a research project off of one grant. The typical annual NSF astronomy research grant is just barely enough to cover a grad student's salary plus overhead. A typical non-faculty research scientist needs 5 or more active grants to cover their own salary because if there is more than 20% salary support for a non-student scientist the grant will get shot down for spending too much on "senior personnel."

That's one reason for the link in my signature.

And no, I don't believe software should be patentable. Nor should human genes or cell lines, or anything else capable of reproducing itself. Propogating a clipping from a rose is not an intelectual property violation.

Should universities...be allowed to hold patents (2, Interesting)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622713)

Should universities (or groups within universities) be allowed to hold patents

Well, if anyone should, then better the universities than companies. Apart from that, I would _not_ ever allow _anyone_ to hold _any_ patent in _any_ way related to human health and cure. Yes, I know what that would mean to "health" and drug companies.
 

Re:Should universities...be allowed to hold patent (1)

Jonny do good (1002498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622967)

I would _not_ ever allow _anyone_ to hold _any_ patent in _any_ way related to human health and cure. Yes, I know what that would mean to "health" and drug companies.

While I do understand the ethical side of your argument (the greedy health care companies), it would never work. If no patents could be held in health care, no companies would research new technologies, and healthcare would become stagnant. Who do you propose handles making new health care technolgies, or are you suggesting that we don't need any new treatments?

Re:Should universities...be allowed to hold patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18624565)

(not the OP)
I'm pretty certain there'd be plenty of skilled scientists clamouring to work on projects that are fully funded by the government and have no strings of 'profitability' attached.

It would 'never work' simply because so many people are locked into the mindset that Corporations = Necessary Evils and Government = Incompetent and Worthless.

Would you - honestly - trust a pharmaceutical corporation to support research for a cheap and effective cure to ANY of the billion-dollar-revenue generating illnesses out there? This isn't conspiracy-theory 'They're sitting on an AIDS vaccine!' shit either, this is a simple and likely 'Why fund that? It'd just hurt our bottom line.'

Re:Should universities...be allowed to hold patent (2, Interesting)

OakLEE (91103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18625403)

Would you - honestly - trust a pharmaceutical corporation to support research for a cheap and effective cure to ANY of the billion-dollar-revenue generating illnesses out there? This isn't conspiracy-theory 'They're sitting on an AIDS vaccine!' shit either, this is a simple and likely 'Why fund that? It'd just hurt our bottom line.'
Yes, I would trust the pharmaceutical company. The first pharmco to cure cancer or AIDS is going to make hundreds of billions of dollars off the cure, and severely hurt their competitor's bottom line.

If anything completely government funded research would be worse, because the researchers have no incentive to complete their work. What's going to happen when these researchers find a cure? Their funding is going to be cut and they'll be out of work. If anything, they have incentive to string the government along because, unlike a pharmco Congress would not dare cut their funding. No Congressman wants to have to explain to his constituents how he is hindering their only hope of a cure by reducing funding.

The other benefit to pharmcos is competition. As I alluded to, if there is only one entity researching a cure, its only going to take one approach at a time to finding it. Contrast this with having several companies doing research. Each company is going to develop its own road map and take varied avenues to the research, effectively speeding up research as a whole. It's like the idea behind distributed computing. Why have one processor repeat same task 10 times when you can have 10 processors do each task once?

Re:Should universities...be allowed to hold patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18625879)

Who says there would only be one 'entity' researching a specific thing at a time? Nothing stopping a government body from having multiple divisions working on different angles of the same idea.

You raise a very good point with the funding issue, though... I suppose for pure public research to truly work, there would have to be some broad social changes. Our culture is still strongly steeped in the notion that personal wealth is the end-all, be-all of existence.

Re:Should universities...be allowed to hold patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18624791)

Then all non-government funded health care research would grind to a halt. If you don't think that's a bad idea, then consider what that would mean for stem-cell research in the current political climate. Many health-care businesses and suppliers would also go under.

What you suggest is exceedingly foolish in the long term.

Re:Should universities...be allowed to hold patent (2, Insightful)

OakLEE (91103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18625043)

I would _not_ ever allow _anyone_ to hold _any_ patent in _any_ way related to human health and cure. Yes, I know what that would mean to "health" and drug companies.
Drug Research is one of the few areas where I would support a strong patent regime. Your average drug today costs hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars to develop. There is simply no way for a company to recoup that money unless it gets exclusive rights to the manufacture and sale of that drug. In pharmaceutical discoveries were unpatentable, drug companies would have no incentive to invest in research. What's the point of spending a but load of cash to find the cure for cancer, when there are hundreds of generic producers waiting to copy your drug and undercut your margins?

As far as alternatives to the current patent regime, the only other solutions are either government directed research or large government prize rewards. Both of these have drawbacks that far outweigh the benefit of their implementation.

The problem with direct 100% government funding is that it creates an incentive to never actually finish work. Researchers would be loathed to find a cure if that cure meant that they were no longer needed and their funding would be cut off. As an illustration, look at the War on Drugs. Do you think the DEA and FBI would actually benefit if all illegal drugs were to suddenly stop entering the US? No, they would have their funding either capped or cut.

Direct prizes are problematic b/c they are inherently hard to value. At a proper prize would have to cover the cost of research plus a "healthy" profit to get companies to compete for it. The hard part here comes in determining the valuation. If the prize amount is set too low, no one will do research. If it is set too high, you effectively have society overpaying for the drug, the excess being the prize amount minus the minimum amount the winning company would have accepted. All of this guessing is eliminated in a patent regime, as the market will determine the amount spent on research, while the patent will effectively serve as "the carrot" for which the drug company will be awarded.

patents patents patents (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18622915)

I still think that if it were up to me I'd eliminate patents and copyrights altogether. Technology has made both a thing of the past.

Patent Rejection Reasoning (1)

gekoscan (1001678) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623025)

"Pluripotent stem cells provide the research community a springboard to launch numerous inquiries into the most fundamental processes of cellular growth and differentiation that underlie human development. Elucidating these mechanisms provides the foundation for the next generation of biomedical discovery. Such discoveries will be directed toward treatment of human developmental abnormalities, regulation of uncontrolled cellular growth associated with cancer, a source of differentiated cells and tissues for transplantation therapy, and a means to identify new drug targets and test potential therapeutics, among others. Realizing the fullest potential from this new stem cell technology for the American people deserves and requires further inquiry.

Stem cells are a research tool today; hopefully, they will also be developed into therapeutic products in the future. The issuance of patents on these new discoveries by the Patent and Trademark Office may not necessarily have an adverse effect on continuing research, provided that the patent owners devise a licensing strategy that will allow basic research to continue unencumbered while preserving commercial value. " full article [hhs.gov]

That being said, the question was,

"Should universities (or groups within universities) be allowed to hold patents and intellectual property while at the same time gaining donations and grants as an educational institution -- or for that matter government funds?"


The purpose of a patent is:

1. To provide incentives for economically efficient research and development.
2. Public disclosure of certain details of a device, method, process or composition of matter.
3. Prevent or exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the claimed invention


The entire purpose of a university studying or researching something like stemcells is to further our knowledge as a species. If a universities incentive of R & D is to further our knowledge (which can only be done by making public disclosure of this research), I fail to see why a university would even need a patent. The reason for grants and donations are because universities are not commerialized industry making revenue or monetary gain off their research.

Could someone please enlighten me as to why a university needs a patent on this kind of research.

The main plaintiff = for-tech biotech... (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623213)

The main plaintiff here is a front for a group of for-profit biotech companies in California that want to avoid patent fees and spend more of their contributed capital on hookers and blow.

We have already paid for it (1)

penglust (676005) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623249)

I see no problem with a group getting a patent for a new discovery. However, it it was done with public money then the patent is owned by the people of the US and no fees should be charged for its use. This also means corporate research using the patent should be considered as public property.

Re:We have already paid for it (1)

Kuvagh (947832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624275)

I've already posted to this effect in this thread just a moment ago... but in the interest of spreading information, please allow me to be redundant. Federal funding for this research was disallowed in 1995. Wisconsinites paid for this, not all Americans.

This isn't just about Stem Cells (3, Informative)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18623517)

Several years ago, a particular big 3 company *accidently* donated a patent regarding a certain coating to a university.

That university then, 1 year later, turned around and sued the company that had donated the patent for violating it. I'm not kidding. To the order of $300,000 a month. I happen to be involved in the change getting rid of the old coating and moving to the new - just to get away from the litigation.

Don't fool yourself. Universities are not about being institutions of higher learning. They are businesses, out to advertise and make money just like any other business. Their sports programs, their research programs, even the ranking in the grad and undergrad programs is ALL about attracting talent so they can attract more money.

Holding patents? (1)

teflaime (738532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18624583)

' Should universities (or groups within universities) be allowed to hold patents and intellectual property while at the same time gaining donations and grants as an educational institution -- or for that matter government funds?" Certainly. If that IP was developed under research funded by the university. There are a good many research universities that use their endowments to fund various sorts of patentable research. However, I would still deem that the patent has to be reasonable...things like software should not be patentable (that's what copyright is for...).

Hello there, (1)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 7 years ago | (#18627069)

G-d here. I know this will probably sound really provacative and really, I don't want it to, but I felt I should probably speak up and clarify something.

I own your ass and all cells in it, so patents are right out. Besides, I wanted you to love and help each other and making inventive smart people trying to to do that pay even to do the research sounds, well, exceedingly mercenary even for you.

Granted I rarely say anything, but we're getting to the point that you might wipe yourselves out tomorrow and I'd rather that you not so the more eyes on this stuff, the better.

Trust me on that. Now go outside and play nice with each other. There's a good monkey.

-The Creator

This research was financed by a private company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18630065)

This research was financed by the private company Geron.
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  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>