Skip to main content

Decision Time

In a 7 to 2 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that Stanford University did not have a claim to the patent on the PCR-based HIV test that it said Roche infringed. The Nature News blog notes that Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that Stanford's interpretation of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 assumed "Congress subtly set aside two centuries of patent law" and that "had Congress intended such a sea change in intellectual property rights it would have said so clearly." And as our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News reports, the decision may clarify Bayh-Dole and affect how agreements are made between universities and their employees in terms of assigning patent rights — much of the case came down to the language of the agreements that Mark Holodniy signed. With Stanford, Holodniy's agreement said, "I agree to assign" future patents to the school, while with Cetus, whose PCR assets were bought by Roche, Holodniy's agreement said "I do hereby assign" future patents to the company. Patent attorney Richard Osman tells ScienceInsider that "the financial consequences will reverberate across Bayh Dole contractors that use imperfect language in their employee agreements."

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.