The United States Constitution provides that, “The Congress shall have power… to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Our entire system of intellectual property protection in the United States is derived from this declaration. This unique provision of our Constitution provides that any institution must acquire intellectual property rights in the United States, through due compensation and consent of its creator, within a mutually accepted contract.
Notwithstanding this Constitutional guarantee, as faculty inventors we are too easily deprived of our intellectual property interests through contracts of adhesion, coercion, and egregious litigation initiated by overzealous university lawyers and administrators. Government must constantly ensure and re-correct imbalance of power, in this case to nourish and enrich the academic wellspring of innovation. In order to fulfill our commitment to translate our innovative contributions to public utility for the benefit of the public who funds them, our government must prevent divergence of our best scientific talent, energy, and time into destructive litigation by establishing enduring transparent contracts that incentivize research translation.
Research faculty lead our society by doing work that is masterful, creative, honest, accountable, and vital to the public welfare. While comparisons have been made between the university and corporate research environments, they are fundamentally different in their purpose and promise to society. The academic community is sustained by the premise of open, independent science and free expression of ideas, including the freedom to select, perform, and publish our ideas and our research. We seek the public’s trust through their investment in our ideas, we comprehend the utilitarian promise of our unique accomplishments, and we plant and foster the seeds of innovation, whether through shared research, industry collaboration, new ventures, or licensing of patents.
Thus, a Bill of Rights for Inventors will secure the foundation of trust for a community with the common goal of promoting discovery, innovation, and utilization of public research. The following rights are necessary and proper to warrant trust and foster innovation at our institutions of higher learning:
BILL OF RIGHTS
1. Faculty and students have the right to freedom of expression; therefore the right to teach and publish their research shall not be abridged by any Intellectual Property policy. The creator of any intellectual property shall retain the right to dedicate any work to the public domain. Universities shall ensure that technology commercialization activities (including the filing of patent applications) shall not unreasonably delay publication of research results.