The discoverer of buckyballs, again...
Dr. Colvin is a chemist at Rice University, the institution that discovered fullerene and that gives her and her colleagues a unique perspective.
The issue of the "discovery" of buckminsterfullerene has been addressed by LBE in many articles in Intellectual Property Today and is an interesting exercise for patent lawyers.
Scientists at Exxon Corporate Research in Annandale, New Jersey identified a molecule of mass corresponding to C60 and published thereon in the Journal of Chemical Physics in 1984. They did not identify the structure of C60 in this paper, but they did possess the molecule C60 which would later be found to have the shape of a truncated icosahedron, aka buckminsterfullerene. The proposal of buckminsterfullerene was made one year later in 1985, using the same experimental methodology as that employed by the Exxon workers.
So, sorry, Paul Indeglia, IPBiz does not think "discovery" is the right word. The folks at Rice did recognize the right structure of C60, a year after the compound had been reported in the scientific literature. They didn't "discover" the molecule, and they could not have patented it. Smalley and Curl of Rice, and Kroto (then of Sussex) did get the Nobel Prize.