Saturday, July 15, 2006

Akamai/MIT bring infringement suit against Limelight

Remember Ariad/Harvard/MIT v. Lilly, the patent infringement suit that had an unexpected result? Well, they're back, this time Akamai and MIT teaming up against Limelight Networks.

According to the Boston Globe, the patent infringement suit, filed in late June, 2006, charges that Limelight has infringed claims of two patents filed in 1999 and 2000 by MIT computer scientists Thomas Leighton and Daniel Lewin. MIT holds the patents, but granted an exclusive license to Akamai, a company founded by (guess who) Leighton and Lewin pursuant to the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act.

Akamai operates a network of computer servers around the world that store copies of data from the world's most popular websites, such as the website of TV news network CNN. By storing a copy of its data in, say, London, a company can deliver Web pages to British readers faster and at less cost. Companies buy the Akamai service because it's cheaper than building their own worldwide server networks.

Of the implementation by universities of features of the Bayh-Dole Act,
Paul Jacobs of the Mercury-News had written

One researcher [at Stanford] has founded six companies, most based on research that came out of his own lab. He is a managing partner of a venture capital firm focused on medical research and sits on the boards of several other companies. His role at the venture company was approved by the dean several years ago because he has no day-to-day management responsibilities. The researcher is a member of the school's conflict of interest committee.


In each case, the faculty members publicly disclosed the relationships. But the examples show why Stanford and other California schools have been referred to as part of "the wild West" where conflicts are thought to be more common than at Eastern medical centers.


Royalties from [patented] inventions help. After expenses, a third of that money goes to the inventors, a third goes to their departments and a third goes to the medical school. Last year, the med school netted $10 million.

"We value our faculty being entrepreneurial," Dean Philip Pizzo said. "We value the fact that we have been able to bring discoveries that have fostered the biotechnology community around us, and we value it because that is a way of accelerating delivery of discovery from the academic community to the patients."

[IPBiz post 1776]


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