Sunday, January 27, 2008

Port Huron patent dispute: CIRM microcosm?

The Times-Herald reports on an interesting patent inventorship dispute in Port Huron, Michigan:

In 2005, Larry O'Keefe, then manager of the St. Clair County landfill, and his wife, Jan, filed a patent application along with two others - engineers Murugappan Subbarayan and Te-Yang Soong - who helped develop the bioreactor.

According to the O'Keefes' Ohio lawyer, David Ison, after the inventors rejected the county's request to share control of the patent, the officials used "strong-arm tactics" to force Larry O'Keefe out of his position as landfill manager.

[Gary] Fletcher [corporate counsel for the county ] continued, saying that listing the engineers and the O'Keefes as the only inventors is itself misleading.

"From the county's point of view, the only reason that anyone is talking of a patent is because of the project the county initiated," Fletcher said, before adding that the county "paid for the engineering, the location, the whole financing of the project," and it should have been put on the patent as an inventor in the first place.

Fletcher said the county is interested in the patent for the potential royalties the invention could bring.

"We strongly feel the taxpayers should benefit," said Fletcher.

Sounds like John Simpson of FTCR talking about Proposition 71 and CIRM.

Published application 20060222463 (application 11/096170) shows three (3) inventors. The first claim states:

A landfill containing refuse, comprising: at least one wet cell; a septage distribution system in said wet cell; said septage distribution system having defined spaces for temporarily holding septage in said refuse; a quantity of septage; said defined spaces being located to provide controlled flow of said septage into said refuse; said septage temporarily occupying said defined spaces.

For those that don't remember, Port Huron was the source of the Students for a Democratic Society [SDS], with the famous Port Huron Statement in 1962.


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