It's That Friggin' Simple

In Stanford v Roche, the CAFC said, essentially:  why don’t you manage your assignment obligations, if you care about them so much, or even follow the protocols of the law that you seek to claim the benefit of?

This, to howls of protest.  Universities have a mandate to license exclusively to monopolists!  That’s the only way things get made and universities make money on patents.  (Except, er, in the case of, say, what Roche has done).  Universities cannot possibly manage all the things that research faculty might do!  Oh, and university inventors are gullible, selfish, inept–did we ever say we liked them?  No, but we do have an obligation to protect the public from them!  Help us do that!

So what is the upshot of all this?  University patent administrators are rallying every organization in the country they can think of to appeal to the courts to make Bayh-Dole a vesting statute.   Here is a law that provides tremendous freedom to universities in the management of inventions–they can claim title, they can waive title, they can assign title, they can subcontract title, they can substitute parties, they can allow their inventors to assign their personal obligations, they can shift obligations via exclusive license, and they can let their own inventors continue to own, with agency approval.  And what does it come to in 30 years?  That the university patent administrators don’t want any of that flexibility.

Please, they ask the courts, make our flexibility go away.  Make it an act of government that universities own federally supported inventions.   Take those rights outright.  Skip any Constitutional misgivings about taking without compensation.   The government pays inventors so that universities may own.  It’s that friggin’ simple.

This is so much more important than anything about research impact, innovation, and national aspirations to lead in technology commercialization.  Make compulsory ownership the cornerstone of federal research policy.  Make all inventions touch a bureaukleptocrat’s thumb.   We want a bureaukleptocracy here.  Erect a statue of the capable, altruistic, hard-working bureauklept, ten feet tall, holding aloft a rolled up patent in a fist, signifying what industry can expect if it doesn’t pay, with university inventors kneeling in docile homage at the base, holding pencils and microscopes and other tools of their trade, looking up with supplicating glances, hoping for a share of future royalties, and perhaps an expensive car.

For their sakes, at least, please make any effort to do anything else go away. This will be great for science, for research, for industry, and for faculty.  It will even be great for inventors, because, you know, they are such loathsome folk.  This will save them from themselves.  Government, led by patent bureaucrats in universities, is so much better off than when led by patent bureaucrats in federal agencies.  That, my friends, is the genius of Bayh-Dole as the university patent administrators would have it.

And this will lead to more collaboration between faculty and industry.  I am not making this up.

What do we learn from this?  We see what university patent administrators are all about.   Power without accountability.  Expediency over respect.   Money over effectiveness.   It is that friggin’ simple.

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