If the University does not want to pursue the innovation or is not entitled to rights in the innovation, why place all of these administrative stumbling blocks in front of their inventors? If the University does decide to pursue licensing, they do not seek input from the inventor, which can result in contractual limitations on obtaining research funds to expand on their own work.
Suppes insists that in every case where the University has decided to pursue patenting and licensing, he has assigned rights to them. However, in one instance that is particularly rankling to the scientist is when he spent $540 out of pocket to gain a provisional patent and MU wanted him to assign rights to them, yet refused to reimburse the small sum he expended.
It is not Dr. Suppes alone who is frustrated with the process at Mizzou. Dr. Jeffrey Phillips, the inventor of Zegerid, an acid-reflux treatment, which produces much of the annual licensing revenue the University enjoys, is discouraged by the way the University has treated his innovations and also believes the system is broken.
When Phillips disclosed his innovation, the TTO told him "we don't have the money and don't want to pursue it." However, Phillips' Chief in the Department of Surgery believed in his work and used department funds to finance the patent process. But, once licensing opportunities opened up, Phillips says, "After it was a great success, they [the University] took it over."
Phillips believes these issues are system-wide, saying, "The reality is, if you go and dig, this is what happens with other successes. I had to essentially find my own outside personal legal counsel to license it. This invention is a success not because of the University, but in spite of it."
In fact, Phillips says, "I had to beg them [TTO personnel] to meet with me and they were inconvenienced by that. They would call me and cancel meetings and say they would check their schedules and get back to me and then never would." Phillips believes these problems extend far beyond the Missouri campuses saying, "From talking to faculty from around the country, except for some rare instances, this is just how it works."
"With the exception of places like Stanford where they really get it, what you have out there is a few people working to bring their inventions to market and succeeding in spite of their university."