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."
Jun 07, 2011