Sunday, December 04, 2005

IP Proposals Not Likely to Satisfy

The California stem cell agency is beginning to leave sharper clues concerning its direction on intellectual property policies – the rules that will determine what kind of return the state receives on its $6 billion research investment.

At its meeting Tuesday in Duarte, the agency is scheduled to consider basic, interim IP regulations for its training grant programs, which are aimed at training more stem cell researchers and are not expected to result in discoveries that need IP protection. But just in case, the Oversight Committee is moving forward with some regulations.

On the agenda is a simple document about "concepts" for IP policies on training grants. Here it is in its entirety.

"Ownership: CIRM grantees will own CIRM-funded discoveries.

"Data/Biomedical Materials Sharing: CIRM strongly supports a broad sharing policy. CIRM will expect grantees to share data and biomedical materials widely, and beyond current practices. CIRM will 'push the envelope of current practice toward much more open' sharing.

"Research Exemption: CIRM will create a research exemption to allow the use of patented CIRM-funded discoveries for research purposes.

"Licensing: CIRM will encourage the commercialization of CIRM-funded discoveries. In licensing activities, CIRM will require that preference be given to companies with plans for access to resultant therapies for underserved patient populations. It is anticipated that any resultant royalties from CIRM-funded discoveries may be subject to a 'tax' to benefit the state of California.

"March-in rights: CIRM will retain march-in rights in the event of: Failure to develop CIRM-funded discoveries, public health and safety reasons"

The agenda contained no draft of proposed rules or any discussion of the pros and cons of the concepts outlined above. But they do suggest that the agency may push to make discoveries available widely as well as to often ignored groups of patients.

It is not likely that these concepts will go far to satisfy those who want major changes in the current economic models for IP and taxpayer-funded stem cell research.

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