U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Rules Against Stanford in HIV Patent Battle


The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against Stanford University in a patent battle over a testing procedure that measures the HIV virus in blood samples.

The Supreme Court ruled for Roche Molecular Systems Inc. in a 7-2 opinion (PDF) by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Roberts wrote that Stanford University was not automatically vested with rights to the procedure under a 1980 law that preserves government contractors’ patent rights for inventions developed with federal funding.

A Stanford scientist who studied HIV measurement methods developed by a Roche predecessor, Cetus Corp., had signed an agreement that assigned Cetus rights to any inventions made as a result of his access. Stanford had argued the scientist had no rights to assign because the university had superior rights to the invention under the 1980 law, the Bayh-Dole Act.

Roberts wrote that the law says government contractors may elect to retain title in federally funded inventions, but it does not automatically vest title.

Dow Jones Newswires (sub. req.) has coverage of the decision. The case is Board of Trustees v. Roche Molecular Systems Inc.

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