A resounding yes to attorney Philip M. Goldman's question in the April 13, 1998 issue of The Scientist: Do Investigators Need Their Own Lawyers? (P.M. Goldman, 12[8]:9). This is especially the case for academic investigators because of the great differences among universities in their intellectual property policies regarding patents. At one extreme is the University of Wisconsin, which does not claim proprietary rights to the inventions of its faculty and, in fact, allows them to own their inventions. Additionally, UW faculty have access to a foundation (WARF) that they can use if they so choose to commercialize their inventions, but they could use private technology transfer agencies. Further to UW, Massachusetts Institute of Technology allows faculty to own their inventions even if they use MIT facilities in development.

At the other extreme is the University of California, which claims property rights to essentially all faculty inventions. This claim...

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