Via: L.A. Times
The Supreme Court ruled that inventors — and not the universities that employ them — have the first right to patent and profit from their discoveries, dealing a defeat to Stanford University and its bid for full patent rights for the diagnostic test used worldwide for detecting HIV. “Since 1790, the patent law has operated on the premise that rights in an invention belong to the inventor,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said.
Roberts and the court majority, in a 7-2 decision Monday, rejected Stanford’s claim that a 1980 federal law changed that rule and gave universities the rights to all inventions that were funded in part with federal money.
Roberts wrote for the majority that the 1980 law, known as the Bayh-Dole Act, said only that federal contractors, including universities, may “elect to retain title” to discoveries. It “does not vest title” automatically in the universities, he said.
Now and in the future, he said, universities may require their scientists to sign contracts that “assign” all rights to future discoveries to the universities. But in the first instance, this right belongs to the inventor, not the employer, he said.
The case has been closely watched, particularly in the world of biotech research because of the hundreds of billions of dollars generated by discoveries that emerge from America’s research universities.
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