Suppes said recently, "I believe the primary motivation of the lawsuit filed against me by the University is an attempt to bully me into stopping my pursuit of justice. When they began their lawsuit, they ended the grievance I had filed against certain MU administrators who had performed substantial violations of the MU Collected Rules and Regulations. The grievance results would be very embarrassing to the University."
Why did the University of Missouri not allow its own internal appeal mechanism to address this matter? The Grievance Resolution Panel (GRP) was a five-member panel made up of five tenured faculty members but this year changed to a three member panel of two faculty and a senior administrator. This policy change was made in 2008 and implemented January 1st, 2009.
Suppes says, "The administration has no problem with using their self-appointed committees [such as the Patent Committee] to make decisions, but in 2008 they ended the old grievance process that had a five member faculty committee. I believe my grievance filed against an attorney and Vice President of the MU System administration prompted the administrators' push to change the grievance procedure."
Either way, the University halted the due process of its own resolution system and went to the courts, along the way cutting short the mechanism it had itself established to address issues of this type.
For Suppes, the core of this controversy is whether MU is properly stewarding the innovations of his and fellow faculty scientists. Dr. Suppes and other Mizzou faculty continue to be disappointed in the conduct of its University with regard to their intellectual property.
"The abuses started by the University not releasing intellectual property when inventors requested when MU was doing nothing with the IP. This abuse continued as would be expected when administrators are not held accountable," Suppes said recently.
To understand Dr. Suppes' concerns, the first document to consider is the Invention Disclosure form the University provides. The form states "I hereby agree to assign all right, title and interest to the invention to the Curators of the University of Missouri and agree to execute all documents as requested, assigning to the Curators of the University of Missouri my rights in any patent applications filed on this invention..."
In order for a faculty scientist to disclose their innovation in compliance with University policy, they must give away all rights to their work. Disclosure is required and assignment is forced in the language of the form. Very few, only twenty percent, of the top research universities utilize forced assignment language in their disclosure forms. If the University decides not to pursue patenting the innovation, they will release the invention back to the inventor, but only after the faculty member agrees to a 7.5% royalty fee (the standard is 2.5%), execution of indemnification documents and after a costly insurance policy on the technology is obtained by its inventor.