Implications of Case
There are two major implications in this case which are important to the university researcher: (1) the notion that discussing research with other researchers is illicit; and (2) the damage to the health and well being of the public through prolonged litigation of a life-saving and/or life-altering treatment.
Prior to the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act, academic research was a process of cumulative work. Scientists built onto the work of other scientists and mankind benefited. Publication of research results was the accepted standard and the research community was just that - a community - one that shared its work and collaborated for the greater good.
However, in the present Bayh-Dole era, secrecy is encouraged in order to protect the potential profitability of innovations. Universities, now operating in the business arena have become savvy to the revenue producing aspects of the work of their researchers.
Still, it is the nature of the academic researcher, as it should be, to cooperate and impart knowledge where it can do the most good, not in terms of dollars and cents, but for the greatest benefit to society.
That society, in fact, is the major provider of funds to support research. Nevertheless, it may not be accorded the full measure of the potential of the investigations it finances due to the secrecy and confidentiality strictures placed on academicians in this age of patents for profit.
To the second point of discussion, ACell was forced to shut down operations from July 2005 through November 2006, while the company appealed the lower court decision that ACell had infringed patents that were owned by Purdue Research Foundation and were licensed to Cook Biotech.
The Federal Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the lower court ruling in August 2006 and operations resumed shortly thereafter.
The question remains, during the 18 month hiatus demanded by the Biotech/Purdue litigation, what progress in the field of tissue regeneration was postponed? How many lives, both human and veterinary could have been bettered?
Dr. Spievack passed away on March 15, 2008 at his home in Cambridge after a long struggle with cancer. He was 74 years old.
Future Activity Anticipated
Purdue and Cook Biotech were denied a Petition for Rehearing by the Federal Circuit of Appeals Court who had overturned their prior victory over the inventors, leaving the Supreme Court as their only venue for another appeal. While Purdue has accepted the court's verdict and moved on, Cook Biotech vows to take back rights from the inventors of the life-changing technology.