Irene Anne Eckstrand IAE at CU.NIH.GOV
Mon Oct 14 11:12:42 EST 1991

> Who owns the patent rights anyway? Presumably most people working on the
> Human Genome Project get funding from the NIH, MRC or similar bodies.
> Surely a condition of funding is that those funding bodies own the
> patent rights? If not, why not? A corollary to that is that presumably
> patent applications can only be filed with the funding body's consent.
> So maybe we should blame the funding organisations?

In general, the right to apply for a patent lies with the grantee
institution (that is, the institution that receives federal funds).
The government has walk-in rights. which can be used "to protect
the national interest."  Generally, the government has argued that
allowing institutions the right to patent inventions would facilitate
rapid dissemination - otherwise, institutions might withhold
information until they had gotten everything possible out of it.
And, I think, this has usually worked well.  I recall a dabate several
years ago about whether to allow recombinant DNA technology to be
patented.  It was, and in part as a result, it is available to
all of us - at a cost, to be sure.

Grantee institutions need not ask permission to file a patent, but
they do need to notify the funding agency about filings.

I am curious about the policies of other governments.  Can anyone
enlighten us?

Irene Anne Eckstrand
National Institutes of Health

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