Basic Science in US Universities Can Infringe Patents

Courtesy of Ed Ergenzinger (left). Courtesy of Murray Spruill (right)  Madey may open the eyes of some university officials and researchers. Much of the research conducted in US universities falls into the category of basic science. Usually this simply means research that is not applied toward developing a product, but instead focuses on explaining underlying scientific principles. Many US university officials and researchers have operated under the mistaken belief that basic science is

Ed Ergenzinger
Mar 9, 2003
Courtesy of Ed Ergenzinger (left). Courtesy of Murray Spruill (right)
 Madey may open the eyes of some university officials and researchers.

Much of the research conducted in US universities falls into the category of basic science. Usually this simply means research that is not applied toward developing a product, but instead focuses on explaining underlying scientific principles. Many US university officials and researchers have operated under the mistaken belief that basic science is protected by an experimental use exception to patent law. While the courts recognize a limited experimental use exception, the recent Federal Circuit Court of Appeals case of Madey v. Duke University1 emphasizes that most basic science conducted in US universities is ineligible for this exception.

The case in-volves a patent infringement lawsuit by John Madey, who holds patents on free-electron lasers (FELs) and their use. He obtained these patents prior to his appointment as professor...

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