intellectual property at Yale (100)

Thu, 16 Mar 89 00:11:23 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 731. Thursday, 16 Mar 1989.

Date: Tue, 14 Mar 89 23:16 EDT
From: Joe Giampapa <GIAMPAPA@brandeis.bitnet>
Subject: per request of Bob Amsler, the article for archive

``Disgruntled inventors urge new patent policy at Yale''
By Abram Katz, Register Science Editor (March 1989)

NEW HAVEN --- Yale inventors may be able to collect more cash for their
creations under a new formula being considered by the university at the
prompting of dissatisfied professors.

Robert K. Bickerton, director of Yale's Cooperative Research Office, said
Wednesday the new policy is being considered by Provost Frank M. Turner and the
university's research advisory board.

Bickerton said no specifics have been settled but a new formula would give
researchers a larger cut.

Some professors are not happy with the amount of money they receive for their
patented and licensed products, Bickerton said.

Others are unhappy with the effort Yale makes to translate their inventions
into commercial products.

One of the most prominent computer scientists in the country, Roger C.
Schank, is likely to leave Yale's department of computer science for a post at
Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He is displeased over the way Yale
pushes for patents and licenses, according to faculty members and a
Northwestern official.

Schank could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Martin H. Schultz, professor and chairman of computer science, said Schank's
departure would be a ``major blow'' to the department and its artificial
intelligence research.

Other professors said Yale would probably shift emphasis from Schank's quest
to imitate human thought to more applied research aimed at producing workable

Yale researchers now can place their inventions in the public domain --- and
receive nothing --- or submit them to the Cooperative Research Office for
possible patenting.

Patents can later be licensed to companies and converted into commercial

Yale researchers now receive 30 percent of the profits from patented
inventions, as do their departments. The university gets 40 percent to buy
equipment or support further research.

Yale secured six patents in 1988, compared with 13 in 1987, according to
Steven Bertha, assistant director of the Cooperative Research Office. The
university earned about $500,000 in royalties and fees in 1987 from all its
patents. No figures were available on how much was earned in 1988.

By contrast, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology obtained 66 patents
last year, which led to 92 licenses, said Chris Jansen, licensing officer in
MIT's Technology Licensing Office.

MIT earned $6.9 million last year from all its patents, including those on
computer software. The licensing office takes 15 percent of the gross income.
The remainder is split into thirds between the inventor, his lab or department,
and MIT's general fund, Jansen said.

While MIT has six full-time staff members in its licensing office, Yale has

David Gelernter, associate professor of computer science at Yale, said the
university is ill equipped to handle the tremendous amount of work in securing
patents, licenses and creating products.

Gelernter invented a software language called Linda to program the most
advanced parallel ocmputers. Most features of Linda were copywrited through
Gelernter by the Scientific Computering Association company of New Haven.

``Yale is not an adequate organization to distribute software with large
commercial applications,'' Gelernter said.

Gelernter added that he does not think Yale should seek to devote as much
time, money and energy to patents and licenses as MIT and Stanford University,
another major source of university patents.

``Yale is not a commercial enterprise,'' said Schultz, chairman of the

And for those researchers who are interested in marketing software, ``it is
possible to do it,'' Schultz said.

---end of article---