Protection of postdoc's idea

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Sun Dec 31 23:00:09 EST 1995

On 1 Jan 1996, Anonymous wrote:

> I am a postdoc in a lab in academia. I have an idea for a project with
> considerable financial potential, but I want to make sure my advisor
> doesn't get all the money and glory. How can I insure that I am on any
> patents that come out of this and that I am financially compensated to my
> satisfaction?
> It seems like us hard-working postdocs come up with the ideas, do the
> work, and the PI gets all the reward. I want to prevent this from
> happening. In fact, if possible, I'd prefer my boss didn't get any reward
> from this whatsoever, since I am very unhappy with the treatment I have
> been receiving from him.

If you really believe you are on something (good idea or what),
my prime suggestion for you is to consider publishing it in open
literature ASDP. If you (honestly) believe that the idea is
yours (your boss did not significantly triggered it), then 
you are ethically free to publish it on your own (no need
to put supervisor as a co-author). 

By publishing you likely won't get much of DIRECT financial 
reward (can't patent as a rule), but if the idea is really 
great, your long-term rewards (as a scientist) are likely to
be much greater.

Again, if you feel the idea is yours, don't hesitate to 
publish it on your own - I knew people who did exactly this
and never regretted. I also knew a case the discoverer of
something important (though no commercial value) was too
'shy' to go on his (in this case : her) own, 'shared' a 
discovery with a boss [ false feeling on duty ? ] and as
a result was &*#@ed of. Inequality between postdoc and prof
(and the temptation for the boss) is too large to justify 
that risk from YOUR sisde.

Happy New Year

Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
Department of Engineering Physics
McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546


More information about the Bioforum mailing list