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Stanford v. Roche Could Set Precedent for Patents

Published on 11/10/2010 -

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to review the patent infringement case Stanford v. Roche. This case could alter how patents are awarded when created using federal grants.

The case involves new technology that measures HIV concentration levels in blood plasma. It was created by Mark Holodniy while he was employed as a researcher at both Stanford University and a private company owned by Roche.

Stanford argues that the Bayh-Dole Act, which states that universities receive the rights to federally-funded research, gives them the right to patent Holodniys invention.

Stanford and many other universities fear that if the court rules in favor of Roche, any company will be able to share the profits of federally-funded research just by entering into agreements with university researchers. Many top universities support Stanford, including MIT, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Yale among others.

However, Roche feels that because they had a contract with Holodniy first, Stanfords fears are not a real issue in the case. They assert that their prior contract, entitling them to all of Holodniys inventions related to their field, gives them the right to the patent.

Though the lower court originally ruled in favor of Stanford, the appellate court instead agreed with Roche. Now both parties must wait for the Supreme Court to make the final decision.

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