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Suppes Case Study

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Case Synopsis


Dr. Galen J. Suppes, a professor in the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Missouri received the EPA's highest honor in 2006 - The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award - for his discovery of an environmentally-friendly use of the co-product of biodiesel production, glycerin. His process converts the excess glycerin into a "green" anti-freeze.

A frequent contributor to professional journals and oft cited author, he has been regularly recognized by the University of Missouri (MU) as an asset. Suppes' research has resulted in many awards and patents, but the University of Missouri has recently cried foul and accused its professor of not giving the college its due.

On the surface, the complaint of the Curators of the University of Missouri filed in Federal court, and subsequently in county court, appear significant. Dr. Suppes is accused of breaching his employment agreement, failing to comply with University rules and patent committee rulings, secreting patent and invention information and altering University documents. But as with many other university IP cases, such as the Townsend and Restasis cases, the foundational issues driving the litigation are much more complex.

But Dr. Suppes maintains his innocence and sees his predicament as an opportunity to advocate for the rights of Mizzou's faculty scientists dissatisfied with the school's handling of their intellectual property. Not only does he plan to continue his vigorous defense against the allegations of the University, but also plans a counter-suit to draw attention to the underlying issue of Missouri's ineffectual technology transfer office and its counter-productive practices.

Also of Interest...

MU Students' iPhone Idea Raises Issues

The Inventor's Role: Was Schumpeter Right?

Incentives and Invention in Universities

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