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University Loses Four-Year Patent Lawsuit

Publication Date: 
October 08, 2009
The Stanford Daily
Troy Yang

Professor Mark Lemley, an expert in intellectual property law, is quoted in the Stanford Daily on a four-year lawsuit that Stanford University lost against Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. over exclusive rights to technology used in HIV test kits:

Stanford students concerned about failure can take comfort in the fact that their school can fall short as well.

In 2005, the University filed a suit against Roche Molecular Systems, Inc., a research-focused healthcare company, claiming the company had violated patent laws by using and producing University-patented technology in their HIV test kits. Last Wednesday, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals dropped the suit completely, claiming Stanford had no ground for a lawsuit.

The final result may prove peculiar to the University, which, for the better part of 20 years, believed it held sole rights to the patents-in-suit.

“It’s a novel issue because of the unusual facts,” said Mark Lemley, a professor specializing in patent law at Stanford Law School.


“I think other universities and maybe other companies, too…anybody who has written their contract to say, ‘I promise to assign’ rather than ‘I hereby assign,’ is going to want to look at this and change what they do,” said Lemley.

“As I understand it from reading the opinion, I think it’s a correct application of its law,” he added. “The law itself is a little odd. The case law on standing to sue…should have a different rule.”