22 Nov Congress passes bill to ease researchers’ collaboration worries
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that allows researchers to work together without worrying that their collaboration will be used against them in a patent dispute. After a 1997 court decision, work shared between different institutions could count as prior art, said Andy Cohn, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
This could invalidate a patent claim – though it has caused little trouble so far besides making research institutions approach collaboration more gingerly. The same restriction did not apply to businesses. The new bill, sponsored by a bipartisan delegation from Wisconsin and dubbed the Create Act, will give researchers greater latitude in working together on something patentable.
“The message for professors is, if you are woking in a collaborative environment you need to have an agreement up front as to how that collaboration is going to be handled,” Cohn said. The bill will now go to the president.