In Technology Transfer Author: Robert Finn

An ongoing legal battle between Michigan State University (MSU) and the entities contracted to administer several of its highly lucrative patents has raised concerns among intellectual-property experts. These observers fear the dispute may cause a crisis in confidence among investors-and may further wrap inventors in red tape-in the rapidly burgeoning field of university technology transfer.

Frederic Erbisch NO NEED: MSU's Frederic Erbisch contends his school can handle patents without outside help. The conflict centers on an attempt by MSU to wrest control of patents for cisplatin and carboplatin-two cancer chemotherapy drugs-back from the organizations to which the patents had been assigned: Research Corporation (RC), a nonprofit, tax-exempt foundation based in Tucson, Ariz., and Research Corporation Technologies Inc. (RCT), a nonprofit but tax-paying company, also of Tucson.

The legal imbroglio illuminates the changing nature of university technology transfer. In recent years, an increasing number of universities-including MSU-have...

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