June 12, 2014 | By April Glaser

Students and Researchers: Take a Stand Against Patent Trolls

Earlier this month, the Senate took patent reform off the table for this legislative session. The Senate leadership did this despite the fact that a strong bill passed in the House with overwhelming support. And thousands of constituents have called for meaningful reform to finally put an end to patent trolling. Instead of listening to innovators and entrepreneurs across the country, the Senate followed marching orders from big biotech, pharmaceutical, and trial lawyer lobbyists.

We were particularly disheartened to see universities oppose critically needed reform of our broken patent system. In a letter organized by the Innovation Alliance, over 100 academic institutions urged the Senate not to pass patent reform legislation. But in doing so, these universities are not representing the interests of their students, researchers, or the inventive learning communities that academia should aim to foster.

By standing in the way of legislative reform, academic institutions are advocating against the interests of their most inventive students and researchers. As things stand now, student innovators are entering into an environment ridden with the threat of abusive patent trolls and costly, unnecessary litigation. That’s why we’re calling on students and researchers to raise their voice and sign the petition in support of real patent reform.

In joining with patent trolls, universities are engaged in a short-sighted chase for cash. For example, more than 60 institutions have sold patent rights to the infamous troll Intellectual Ventures. Despite these deals, a recent Brookings Institution study revealed that patent licensing campaigns don’t actually bring much revenue to universities. Instead of hitching their wagon to patent trolls, universities should focus on true technology transfer. This means partnering with industry to actually bring new products to market and not partnering with trolls that simply tax productive companies.

University support for patent trolls is especially disappointing because many of the innovations that come from academia are funded by public tax dollars. University research is often made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation and other federal programs that support important academic innovation. While the law allows for universities to patent and license out federally funded inventions, we would hope universities take better care in ensuring that their deals align with the interest of the public whose funds they are using.

Broad patent reform might be on hold for this legislative session. But we’ll be ready when the Senate reconvenes. If you’re affiliated with a university and dismayed by the Senate’s failure to pass common-sense fixes to the patent system, then join us in signing a letter to the Senate. It’s time to make sure our elected officials hear us loud and clear: some academic institutions may be against critical reform, but we—your constituents—urge our lawmakers to put an end to patent troll abuse.

Sign the petition today. Support student innovation. And urge your peers, colleagues, and fellow alumni to do the same. Together, we’ll put an end to patent trolls.


Wall of Shame: The academic institutions that fought against patent reform in the Senate:

American Council on Education
Arizona State University
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of American Universities
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
Association of University Technology Managers
Auburn University
Ball State University
Boston University
Brandeis University
Brown University
California Healthcare Institute (CHI)
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
City College of New York
Clemson University
Cleveland State University
College of William & Mary
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
Colorado State University System
Cornell University
Duke University
Emory University
Florida A&M University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Idaho State University
Indiana University
Iowa State University
Johns Hopkins University
Kansas State University
Louisiana Tech University
Miami University
Michigan State University
Michigan Technological University
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Montana State University
New Mexico State University
New York University
North Carolina State University
Northern Illinois University
Northwestern University
Ohio State University
Ohio University
Oklahoma State University
Oregon State University
Pennsylvania State University
Portland State University
Purdue University
Rice University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
San Francisco State University
South Dakota State University
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Stony Brook University – State University of New York
Texas State University
Texas Tech University
Tulane University
University at Buffalo – State University of New York
University of Akron
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of Cincinnati
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado System
University of Connecticut
University of Delaware
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Hawaii
University of Houston
University of Idaho
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois System
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Massachusetts
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Missouri – Kansas City
University of Missouri – St. Louis
University of Missouri System
University of Montana
University of Nebraska
University of New Hampshire
University of New Mexico
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
University of North Carolina System
University of North Texas
University of Oklahoma
University of Oregon
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Rhode Island
University of Rochester
University of South Carolina
University of South Florida
University of Southern California
University of Tennessee System
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Dallas
University of Toledo
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin Colleges
University of Wisconsin System
University of Wisconsin-Extension
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
University of Wyoming
University System of Maryland
Washington State University
Washington University in St. Louis
Wayne State University
West Virginia State University
West Virginia University
Western Michigan University
Yale University

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