Growing conflict over nanotech intellectual property

An article in InformationWeek, while focused primarily on information technology, has lessons for nanotech as well (emphasis added):

“U.S. universities need to recognize they’re in a global showdown for research dollars. But sometimes they’re their own worst enemies in landing such funding. The culprit: The conflict over who gets the right to collect royalties on patents resulting from vendor-sponsored university research.

“Non-U.S. university researchers generally are more interested in the grant cash, so reaching agreements with foreign academic researchers takes at most a few weeks. HP recently took two years to reach an agreement to fund nanotechnology research at UCLA, says Wayne Johnson, VP of worldwide university relations at HP… ‘It’s a difficult topic, because there’s a belief that there’s money in this for the licensee,” Johnson says. “But the corporations typically aren’t even sure there will be intellectual property. So the end product of this is tremendous delays…’ ”

“The stumbling block isn’t always royalties. Vendor lawyers often don’t want university researchers to share the knowledge from industry-backed research in academic journals and forums. That conflicts with universities’ spread-the-knowledge mission–and academics’ publish-or-perish career paths.” [Credit: Meridian]

Folks, this is a mess and it’s only going to get worse unless action is taken. Please let me know if you’d like Foresight to take on this issue, and whether/how you can help. —Christine

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