Solicitor General files amicus brief for Stanford suit against Roche

Oct. 13, 2010, 2:00 a.m.

The United States Solicitor General filed a “friend of the court” brief before the United States Supreme Court supporting Stanford in its intellectual property lawsuit against biotech firm Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. The case stemmed from a dispute between the University and Roche over the ownership of patents used in the company’s HIV test kits.

In the brief, acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal expressed strong support for Stanford and its peer institutions and has asked the Court to both hear the case and decide in the University’s favor. It argues that the Bayh-Dole Act, an intellectual property law passed in 1980, prevents an inventor at a federally funded U.S. university from assigning ownership of his invention to a third party.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held last year that an agreement between Roche’s predecessor, Cetus, and medical school professor and former Cetus employee Mark Holodniy gives the University and Roche dual ownership of the patents in question.

The brief adds that the Appeals Court’s decision “creates serious uncertainty” about the ownership of patents and “frustrates Congress’s efforts to foster scientific research and development”.

Other universities and university groups, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the American Association of Universities, the American Council on Education and a consortium led by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation previously filed briefs in support of Stanford.

Tyler Brown

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