Patents, Copyrights, and License Agreements

Toby Bradshaw toby at
Wed Nov 10 11:09:11 EST 1993

In article <1993Nov9.160309.15441 at>,
Jim Owens <jow at> wrote:
>The problem the researcher (mentioned in my previous post) had was that
>he would be making enough TAQ polymerase to be noticed by nosy people at
>Hoffman LaRoche.  So to protect himself, he tried to make a deal with
>Roche.  As of March, when his letter appeared in Science, nothing had
>been settled.

Ron Sederoff, NCSU.  I've seen the letter he got from Cetus' attorney.
I asked my brother, who is a lawyer (not a patent attorney, just
the garden-variety shyster) and he confirmed that in his opinion
Cetus (now Roche) has every legal authority to stop individuals
from performing PCR wihthout a license from Roche (and the purchase
of their Taq *is* the implicit "license").  My group spends >$20K
year just for Taq, and Sederoff's group is several times the size
of mine.  I'm not happy about the pricing policy, but short of
changing the patent laws to exclude research use, there's no legal
alternative to rewarding Cetus (and now Roche) for an invention
developed at a company.

Remember, too, that many companies don't see university research
as "pure", either, but as a potential source of competitors when
research ideas developed at public expense (including corporate
taxes) are taken public by university faculty and staff for private
gain (much as Cetus and Roche have done by using public information
on Taq, etc.).

Toby Bradshaw                       |
Department of Biochemistry          |  Will make genetic linkage maps
and College of Forest Resources     |            for food.
University of Washington, Seattle   |
toby at               |

More information about the Methods mailing list