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Signature on Visitor's Form Fuels Stanford v. Roche Court Battle

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Science  08 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6026, pp. 163
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6026.163

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Mark Holodniy's signature on a visitor's agreement is at the center of a major patent fight before the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawyers representing biotech company Cetus and its successor, Roche Molecular Systems, say the young scientist forfeited not only his own patent rights but also those of his university when he signed the agreement 22 years ago. Stanford says this cannot be so. In its view, a U.S. law to encourage commercialization of research, the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, directs that a university scientist on a U.S. research grant—as Holodniy was—must assign patent rights to the university. Furthermore, when Holodniy was hired by Stanford in 1988, he agreed to assign future patents arising from his work to the university. Two lower courts have considered the claims and given divergent opinions on who should prevail.