Even Under Bayh-Dole, Employee Inventor Has First Dibs

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The Supreme Court of the United States recently delivered a blow to the university technology transfer world by holding 7-2 that federal contractors do not have an automatic right to claim title to inventions. Because all ownership rights stem initially from the inventor, even in the case of federally funded research, the inventor’s ownership rights trump the Bayh-Dole vesting provision.

In its second affirmance of a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision in the span of two weeks, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a blow to the university technology transfer world, held (7-2) that federal contractors do not have an automatic right to claim title to inventions. The statutory rights of the inventor, even in the case of federally funded research, trump the Bayh-Dole vesting provision. Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems, Case No. 09-1159, 563 U.S. ____ (June 6, 2011) (Roberts, Chief Justice) (Sotomayor, Justice, concurring) (Breyer, Justice, dissenting).

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