University Lacks Entitlement

On 17 April 2008, the Federal Court handed down University of Western Australia v Gray (No 20) [2008] FCA 498.

It's a turgid case of 1,618 paragraphs. So that means I haven't read it all yet.

In short, the Court said: "Absent an agreement to the contrary, rights in relation to inventions made by academic staff in the course of research and whether or not they are using university resources, will ordinarily belong to the academic staff as the inventors under the 1990 Act. The position is different if staff have a contractual duty to try to produce inventions. But a duty to research does not carry with it a duty to invent."

That's just the sort of anachronistic thinking the infuriates me. Surely carrying out research includes inventing? I'm thinking that anyone doing research at UCLA (for example) would consider that there was an implied duty to invent. What's the research for then? Fun?

Hopefully this case will be appealed.

It's effect will probably not be that dramatic. Most universities involved in productive research have proper contracts in place dealing with IP.

I will make an attempt to get to grips with the Court's reasoning. Something might even be posted...


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