More Trouble From Universities And Patents: Lawsuits Between Universities And Professors
from the sharing-the-knowledge-or-grabbing-for-profits dept
You would think that a university, whose mission is to help disseminate knowledge, would want to help share ideas. But Bayh-Dole turned many of them into idea-hoarding factories, believing (often incorrectly) that hoarding ideas would bring them profit, thus often stifling research. In the main case described in the article linked above, the University of Missouri gave up trying to commercialize a certain patent developed by a professor at the university. Even so, when the professor tried to reclaim the rights to his own research, for the sake of doing his own startup, the University tried to put in all sorts of strict rules and conditions -- well beyond what it even requires of other organizations it licenses patents to. Thus, the two sides are now engaged in a big lawsuit.
This, of course, hurts everyone. Rather than focusing so narrowly on patenting every bit of research and then trying to squeeze every penny from those patents, you would think that there are much more beneficial ways for everyone to benefit from the research. The professor could build his startup, and the more successful it is, the better it reflects on the University -- who can tout that the research initially came from the university. This, in turn, can lead to new (and bigger) grants and funding for new research, as the university's reputation is greatly enhanced. If the professor remains connected to the university in some fashion, this works out even more. And all of this can be done without patents. In fact, without having the professor license his own research, it keeps the costs down for the startup, making it easier for that startup to succeed. Plus, this would fit well with the recognized value of sharing ideas that come out of academia, rather than trying to hoard them for profit.