The Supreme Court ruled this month 7-2 to uphold the "First-to-Invent" stand of the U.S. Patent Laws. This decision made in the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. reinforces the historical rights of inventors and should have sent a strong message to Congress about maintaining those rights.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court's opinion, noted that "since 1790, the patent law has operated on the premise that rights to an invention belong to the inventor." While he acknowledged that much has changed in U.S. patent law in 220 years, he emphasized, "the basic idea that inventors have the right to patent their inventions has not." The Court goes on to say that the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act allocating patent rights involving federally funded research did not change that basic tenet."
"With this ruling, faculty inventors and students no longer can be told by university administrations that they signed away the rights to their life's work as a condition of federal funding," said Dr. Renee Kaswan, founder of IP-Advocate. "The court's landmark decision confirms that faculty and student inventors merit a seat at the table and that, from now on, their voice will be heard."
Read attorney David P. Swenson, of the law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi, amicus brief co-sponsored by IP Advocate, AAUP, and IEEE on behalf of student and faculty inventors that helped win this decision.
Read more of Dr. Kaswan and Gerald Barnett's perspective on this landmark case.