Friday, August 28, 2009

UK Fast-Tracks Clean Technology Patents

Earlier this year the UK Intellectual Property Office announced an initiative to fast-track patent applications related to clean technology. The "Green Channel" can be requested by applicants if they indicate that their technology has the potential to impact climate change.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

When universities retain non-commercial/educational use of IP, licensors may lack standing to sue infringers

This is huge. In Resonant Sensors Inc. v. SRU Biosystems Inc., 3-08-cv-01978, Judge Lynn yesterday ruled that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue, saying

"Plaintiffs acknowledge that the [patent owner] retains rights to the non-commercial, educational use of the patents. . . . [T]hese retained rights of use actually demonstrate an absence of complete exclusivity, which in this Court’s view is key to the issue of whether there was a conveyance of all substantial rights."

Originally reported by the DocketReport blog.

Would the same logic apply to the reservation of humanitarian rights? How does this affect the value of university IP?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Drama and university patenting

Authorship, in the scientific paper sense, does not necessarily inventorship make, in the patent sense. Occasionally this causes a lot of drama. Witness the following case JUNIPER NETWORKS INC v. BAHATTAB [PDF]. As described at the wonderful Docket Report blog:

Thesis Advisor for Inventor's Research was not a Co-Inventor. The court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's inventorship claim, rejecting plaintiff's argument that the named inventor's thesis advisor was a co-inventor.

Interesting case. More frequently, its probably the student who is left off the patent and feels slighted (probably rightly so!).

Another, interesting case: Stanford Ph.D. student sues Stanford, Stanford prof over patents and copying thesis. Good to see students sticking up for their IP in general!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Patent pools in global health

This year UNITAID announced plans to establish a patent pool for medicines "to provide patients in low and middle income countries with increased access to more appropriate and lower price medicines." A task force is working out the details. Glaxo-Smith Kline similarly announced support for a voluntary patent pool to encourage innovation in neglected diseases afflicting the world's poor.

These patent pools are a different breed than the more traditional ones based on cross-licensing structures and typically found in standard-driven industries -- like the MPEG LA patent pool that licenses portfolios of patents essential to downstream innovation using this technology for digital video compression. Traditional pools usually contain carefully selected technologies, have pre-negotiated licensing arrangements, and require significant resources to create and manage.

GSK's commitment to global health priorities is well-established (e.g. its partnership with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV)). But for this new foray into the world of patent pools, it is still too early to tell whether there is likely to be any real impact on innovation in global health technologies. If the patents in these "pools" are offered under standardized and practical licensing terms, it would serve to reduce transaction costs and increase accessibility. Implementing standardized licensing language, though, is a real challenge.

If, instead, companies gather patents that are loosely technically related, post the information online, and simply note that they are open for negotiating licenses for uses in developing country applications, the PR benefits could be much greater than the real impact on innovation.