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When the Federal district court rejected Missouri's case, MU filed in the Boone County court a suit identical to the one dismissed earlier that day. The University is again asking for every invention Suppes has made since 2001 to be assigned to it in addition to unspecified damages. For the University, ownership rights and profits seem to be the key issue, but the controversy runs much deeper than that.

In its most recent complaint, Missouri alleges on page four that "Suppes has... submitted invention disclosure forms that were altered... On these occasions Suppes submitted the forms without bringing his alterations to anyone's attention."

What Suppes did, and freely admits, is that he "submitted invention disclosures on forms that did not automatically assign the rights to the University. I used language like submitted according to the Collected Rules and Regulations." However, in reviewing one of the invention disclosure forms Suppes submitted, what is visibly obvious is that he was not trying to obscure that he was tendering a non-standard form. The very first word at the top left of the form is Modified. Also, the font and format are different, while the language is nearly identical with the exception of the automatic assignment clause which is normally directly above the inventor's signature on the last page of the form and a section for a witness to the disclosure form to sign.

The only way Missouri's Technology Management & Industry Relations (TMIR) office would not have noticed the modifications is if they had not given them even a cursory review. Of interest, and relevant to this accusation, is that in 2007, the TMIR proposed a revised invention disclosure form that the Patent Committee approved, sight unseen, that had only one substantial change. The signature and date line for a TMIR representative to complete once the form had been reviewed was removed.

One has to wonder why Missouri's TMIR wanted to remove the one line that would establish its accountability for processing the invention disclosure forms. With only 77 new inventions disclosure forms received system-wide in 2008, how difficult is it to review each form and sign and date that this was done?

As to why Suppes submitted modified forms, he says "If the MU Tech Transfer Department did not pursue patent and commercialization, they would not have automatic patent assignment. It puts the inventor at a better position to keep rights to inventions that the University does not patent or commercialize. When the MU Tech Transfer department decided to pursue patent, I always assigned inventor rights according to the Collected Rules and Regulations. The problems arose when MU did not pursue a patent and yet refused to release the invention back to me."

 

 

 
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