…and not just any court. The Supreme Court.
Just this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review an intellectual property case between Stanford University and Roche, a company that focuses on diagnostics and drugs for infectious diseases.
The case, entitled “Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.,” will profoundly influence the way America assesses patent rights with regard to university and government funding.
The controversy stems from developments in HIV testing using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology conducted by Stanford fellow Mark Holodniy in the late 1980s. Holodniy’s team relied substantially upon generous research grants provided by Stanford University and the National Institutes of Health, a federal agency. When Holodniy joined Stanford as a Research Fellow in the Department of Infectious Disease in 1988, he signed a “Copyright and Patent Agreement” (“CPA”) that obligated him to assign his inventions to the university. The next year, Holodniy began collaborations with local biotech company Cetus Corp.