Wednesday 23 April 2008

A case worth $45million to an Aussie doctor

According to ABC News, a unique lawsuit involving the intellectual property rights for research by a university employed doctor has been been dismissed by the Federal Court in Perth.

In 1997 Doctor Bruce Gray created a biotech company called Sirtex to develop and market an anti-cancer technology he had invented. The University of Western Australia claimed ownership rights over the drug treatment because it alleged Doctor Gray invented the technology while employed at the university. However Federal Court Justice Robert French dismissed the university's claim saying inventions made by academic research staff using university resources ordinarily belong to the staff member.

Outside the court Dr Gray's barrister Martin Bennett said his client would be seeking damages.

"His (company, Sirtex) shares have been frozen throughout the time he's been forced to sell other assets and borrow money to fund multi-million dollar litigation," he said.

Apparently, Sirtex shares surged 13 per cent today to $3.53 before a trading halt was issued.

Provious web positings on the case (and other boardrom tensions) can be checked here.

Co-incidentally, this blogger received a question on a similar point just yesterday (albeit for another jurisdiction and with nothing like AUS $45million in issue... yet) and came to a somewhat different conclusion about ownership of copyright derived from works created in the course and scope of either the employ of the University or through doing work under University supervision. He would welcome comment from readers and a copy of this case, if anyone can get their hands on it.


Anonymous said...

For the author, and for anyone else interested, the case can be accessed via AustLII, here: [url][/url]

Beware, however, that to print the case, you'll need approximately 600 pages.

Darren Olivier said...

Thanks Craig! Bedtime reading - a thesis no doubt.