Children's Hospital 'Allowed' To Continue Research Using System It Developed After Patent Fight
from the bizarro-world dept
Last month, we wrote about the absolutely ridiculous situation, where Children’s Hospital of Orange County had to shelve its research into brain diseases for children for three years, because the company StemCells claimed it had a patent on the technique the researchers at the hospital were using. Of course, the hospital researchers had developed the technique entirely independently (potentially before StemCells did), but due to the patent, apparently that didn’t matter. The small bit of good news is after three years of stifled research, StemCells and Children’s Hospital have worked out an agreement to give the hospital a “license” for free. While this is good news, it’s still quite worrisome that we had to deal with three years of stifled research to get to this point where some researchers could use techniques they, themselves, developed.
Even worse, because of the nature of the agreement — a license from StemCells — the press gets to erroneously suggest that somehow Children’s Hospital had taken something from StemCells. Note the opening sentence of the article above:
Palo Alto biotech company StemCells will allow a children’s research hospital to use its patented technology for free, clearing the way for greater study of conditions such as autism, brain cancer and neurological disease.
Remember, this is a technique that the researchers at the hospital came up with on their own, and now the press is saying that some other company “will allow” them to use it? And saying that it’s actually using that company’s “patented technology,” when that’s not true at all? The hospital isn’t using StemCells’ patented technology. Its using its own techniques that it developed.
This is a point that we’ve raised before. So many reporters contribute to massive misconceptions about patents by writing sentences like the one above. It implies that patent lawsuits really are about one group “copying” an idea or technology from another, and that the patent holder “owns” the technology itself. This is blatantly untrue in most cases.
What a ridiculous world we live in where a hospital researching brain diseases for children has to beg and plead for three years to be “allowed” to use its own technology, and then have the press make it sound like it had copied that technology from someone else.