UPDATE: Supreme Court Decision May Have Huge Affect on Faculty Governance

Ed.  My concerns about Stanford v. Roche may have been understated now that I have read more about the  new patent law passed by the US Senate.

That law would award patents to the first to file rather than, as present, the first to invent.  This conflicts with the way things are done at universities where academics get credit for being the first to discover and publish the discovery.   The law also, however, may have stifling effects on universities.

Corporate patenting is very different then the pressure to publish in the academic world.  A publication by an academic rival can  block an academics’ ability to claim an idea as her own because it would be assumed that she had devised their idea from reading the rival’s work.  The current system works for academe because the record of invention can be used to protect the author’s rights even if someone else is the first to file a patent. In industry the process is entirely different.  Corporate discoveries are often concealed because once a patent is applied for the ideas behind the patent become public.  The new law may   encourage industrial publication because a history of when the company invented something would no longer give the company priority for as patent.

This act of the Senate, may also bear on the UW’s search for a new President.  Corporations are run for profit by CEOs chosen to use capital to make profits.  This is is not the case at universities, especially public universities.  In the past universities chose successful academics as leaders.  With the advent of biotech and silicon valley, these same academics have often passed over into the for-profit world. In contrast r UW Presidents, including Emmert and McCormick,  are ill prepared to lead institutions intended to synergize publicly financed research efforts with the corporate world.

Ed. You may also want to read about the ongoing issues of journals claiming to OWN the copyrights to work they publish.  Academics in California and London have proposed boycotting these journals!