The rigors of proper intellectual property protections go against the grain of many researchers, but lawyers who clash over ownership of ideas urge scientists to learn some basic legal principles. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies forage university labs for new discoveries in medicines and therapies, for which they will make available big research bucks. But if a scientist's ideas can't be patented, the corporate coffers close.

Courtesy of UCLA, School of Medicine

Stanley G. Korenman

"Universities were never organized to develop a drug," explains Stanley G. Korenman, associate dean for ethics at University of California, Los Angeles. "We're talking about $200 million dollars, and [universities] are not going to take that risk. But the drug companies can raise the money in the capital market and spread the risk. They can only do that if they have some exclusive rights. That's why patents stimulate productivity and inventiveness."

Protecting the integrity of...

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