Nobel laureate Dr. Tasuku Honjo and his commercial partners last week lost a US Federal Circuit appeal in their dispute with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute over the ownership of six patents covering revolutionary cancer immunotherapy methods. The CAFC upheld a Massachusetts district court ﬁnding that two researchers must be listed as inventors so that Honjo, Ono Pharmaceutical and Bristol-Myers Squibb no longer have exclusive ownership of the lucrative rights.
“Inventorship disputes arise very often, especially when the invention is the result of a research collaboration and, thus, potential joint inventors from two or more different companies or institutions are involved,” explains Maria Zacharakis of McCarter & English.
“Some courts have called a joint inventorship analysis one of the muddiest concepts in the muddy metaphysics of patent law,” Zacharakis continues, but scientists can mitigate related risks by maintaining records of the conception. “Such records may take the form of, for example, lab notebooks or copies of email communications between collaborators,” she states.