BIOPRESERVATION & BIOBANKING Volume 7, Number 3, 2009/2010 © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/bio.2010.7301.edi
From the Editor’s Desk
ne of the infrequently discussed issues in the emerging world of biobanking relates to intellectual property (IP) development and ownership. While most academic and private organizations have established in-house IP policies, the trend toward entrepreneurship, faculty/graduate student start-up enterprises and individual strategic partnerships that emerge from consulting relationships sometimes obscures, complicates, and may lead to litigious outcomes. Technology transfer managers are debating the role of faculty researchers, graduate students, and technician researchers in commercializing the individual’s inventions. It is well beyond the scope of this editorial to review the complexity of “presumed ownership” issues as they relate to IP, but it is useful to raise this issue at an early stage in biobanking when one considers that a contributing basis for invention, archived biologics, may be of uncertain ownership. With the intent of bringing a greater degree of clarity to this issue, Alan Bentley, Director of Commercialization for Cleveland Clinic Innovations, and Dr. Renee Kaswan, founder of IPAdvocate.org (www.IPAdvocate.org), former research professor at the University of Georgia and inventor (Restasis®) have published their version of an Academic Inventors’ Bill of Rights with the belief that the adoption a standard of minimal legal protections for the intellectual property of students and faculty will benefit faculty, students, society at large, and universities in the long run. The Academic Inventors’ Bill of Rights will no doubt engender heated discussion for it among other things recommends that students and faculty have a right to freedom of expression, the right to teach and publish their research, and that this right shall not be abridged by institutional
intellectual property policy. Further, inventors shall be entitled to timely disposition of their inventions and to obtain access to inventions for which the university elects to discontinue commercialization effort, without onerous restrictions or obligations by the university that would act as disincentives to commercialization. Institutional practices and procedures related to the commercialization process should be published and transparent, and inventors should have the right to due process, conducted in public with access to all records as may be requested. All inventors, including students and other staff, shall have equal right to institutional protection of their interests in their intellectual property regardless of academic rank or position. Inventors should have the right to be informed about any license negotiations or renegotiations. Any changes to intellectual property or commercialization policies shall be approved by the appropriate institutional governance body, such as a faculty senate and disputes shall be resolved by a committee that includes peers and administrative representatives. One particularly sensitive recommendation is that no university may require pre- assignment of future IP rights as a condition of employment or student enrollment. Or, at a minimum, inventors who assign their IP to a university may select a qualified independent agent to promote their invention into public use. The full draft is accessible for public comment at www.ip-advocate.org/billofrights.
—John G. Baust, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief