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January 2000

Ethical Conflicts in University-Based Research

Arch Ophthalmol. 2000;118(1):148. doi:

Dr Packer's important editorial1 on ethics and medical patents has become even more relevant because of a recent Supreme Court ruling (College Savings Bank v Florida, 98-149 F3d 353 [1999]). According to this ruling, inventors will no longer have recourse against patent violations by state-owned agencies or universities.

When Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980,2 it changed the way university research could be transferred to the private sector. When the law went into effect in 1981, Howard Bremer said " . . . it ensured ‘certainty of tide' to universities of inventions made in whole or in part with federal moneys by their faculty and staff. . . ."3 This certainty of tide meant the universities could work with industry.