university's for-profit subsidiary. When a company inquired about licensing the receptors, they were told that they would need to sponsor research at the university as a condition. One industry participant noted that companies have been fairly receptive to the use of their research tools in the past, and wondered whether the companies would be less so in the future.
Possible Solutions. Universities and industry should both want the widest possible use of research tools. Licenses that carry low rates until an invention generates a certain level of income have been used in some cases. One industry participant urged universities not to patent partial gene sequences and research tools at all, since it might be very difficult to prove infringement. There was some discussion of universities defining a "deminimus threshold" for an invention before a university would seek a royalty-bearing license.
Publication Delays and Non-Disclosure Requirements May Impair the Openness of the University Research Environment. Companies sponsoring research often need time to evaluate whether applying for a patent is worthwhile, and ask universities to delay publication of results. Such delays can impair the open research environment or prevent junior faculty from building a strong record of publications needed to gain tenure.
Possible Solutions. There is clearly a wide range of practices among universities in this area. Some do not allow any delays in publication. Many allow publication delays of 60 to 90 days. One university allows a delay of up to two years on a case-by-case basis if no graduate students are involved in the research and non-tenured faculty members sign a statement indicating that they understand the policy. Despite these diverse approaches, a number of participants seemed confident that effective ways of handling these issues are widely available. In the area of non-disclosure, one industry participant reported that in the rare instances when there is a need to share confidential information with a faculty member, this can be done with a consulting agreement separate from the sponsored research agreement.