Sunday, January 30, 2005

Patent competition in Kansas?

The following discussion was made possible by the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, wherein then-Senator Dole represented Kansas. Note also that the state of Kansas passed the Kansas Economic Growth Act in 2004, which will spend $500 million in bioscience research across Kansas over the next 10 years. Other states are funding research, including California and New Jersey on stem cells. The California initiative is generating some controversy, which I'll discuss in a separate post.

from Joel Mathis of Journal-World --

Kansas State University claimed nine patents during 2004, continuing a back-and-forth race with Kansas University [KU] that has seen the Manhattan university take a slight edge in patents since 1997, with a 52 to 49 lead.

"Yes, we do compete with KU, a friendly competition," said Marcia Molina, K-State's director of technology transfer. "We keep an eye on, not just KU, but the Big 12 and everybody else."

Even combined, however, KU and K-State have a long way to go to catch the leader. The University of California system, which will open its 10th campus this year, claimed 447 patents in 2004.

KU retains the rights to 93 patents, officials said, which have brought in about $4 million to the Lawrence campus over the past five years. One KU spinoff -- ProQuest Pharmaceuticals Inc. -- was sold in December for $7 million in stock.

The dream at all universities, Roberts said, is to come up with another Gatorade. The sports drink was invented at the University of Florida and provided an economic boon for the institution. [Query: what about Stanford's Cohen/Boyer patents?]

"There is always the possibility of something like a Gatorade happening, in which you have a big hit," Roberts said. "Those don't happen very often, but if you're not in the game, they don't happen at all."


The comments of Jim Roberts, KU's vice provost for research, remind one of the "patent as lottery ticket" theme that attended much of the discussion of the patenting of the SARS sequence a couple of years ago [QUERY: where are they now?] One wonders if the Wright Brothers viewed their efforts as buying a lottery ticket.


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