Supreme Court to Address University’s Patent Ownership Rights Under Bayh-Dole Act

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This week the Supreme Court agreed to address important issues regarding the ownership of inventions arising out of federal grants to universities, non-profit organizations, and small businesses. For the first time, the Supreme Court will be called upon to interpret the Bayh-Dole Act, a federal statute regulating ownership of patents arising from federally funded research. The Supreme Court’s decision could have a significant impact on ownership rights for innumerable inventions made with the assistance of federal funding, as well as the procedures and agreements that universities, non-profit organizations, and small businesses use to manage relationships with their researchers.

On November 1, 2010, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. No. 09-1159, to review a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissing Stanford University’s patent infringement claims against Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. The Federal Circuit held that Roche acquired co-ownership of the patents-in-suit through an assignment agreement from one of the inventors, despite the Bayh-Dole Act.

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