November 11, 2010

Supreme Court Accepts Case Challenging Key Feature of Bayh-Dole Act

From AAAS Policy Alert – November 10, 2010:

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging universities’ claims to ownership of faculty inventions created with federal funding. The case, Stanford v. Roche, strikes at the core of the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, which allows universities to retain the rights to research funded by federal grants. Stanford sued the pharmaceutical company Roche, alleging infringement of technology for detecting HIV levels in a patient’s blood. The university claims it owns the technology because its discoverer worked at Stanford. Roche counters that the inventor signed a contract that gave the company patent rights to anything that resulted from their collaboration. In a September 2009 ruling, the U.S. Federal Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit overturned a California District Court decision, stating that “Stanford lacks standing to assert its claims of infringement against Roche.” A friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Obama administration stated that the appeals-court ruling undermined the intent of the Bayh-Dole Act and “turns the act’s framework on its head.” The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case early next year in time to rule by the end of June.

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