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California wants to protect its gold. Its intellectual property gold, that is. Last year the Legislature passed a bill calling for a study on how the state should deal with IP created under state grants and contracts. Now a 17-person study group is coming up with specific recommendations for the governor and Legislature. At issue is who actually owns the IP — the state funding agency or the grantee. “One question is how far do you go to keep the benefits of a project within the state when [Californians] paid for it with their taxes,” said study group member James Pooley, a partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Pooley said one of the questions the group is trying to answer is whether the state should put IP from state-funded research into the public domain or take ownership of the IP and license its use to others. The study group was put together by the California Council on Science and Technology, a state organization that advises the government on scientific issues. Susan Hackwood, CCST’s executive director, said each state agency and department currently has its own policies for dealing with IP, which has made it increasingly difficult for people to do business with the state. Hackwood said she knows of no other state that has developed a uniform IP policy. The federal government’s policy is laid out in the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act. The legislation allows universities to retain ownership of federally funded inventions and requires that they license rights to others to commercialize the inventions. “We hope [our study] will have the same positive impact on IP transfer as Bayh-Dole has at the federal level,” Hackwood said. The study group is also making separate recommendations for handling IP from stem cell research authorized under Prop 71. The initiative, passed by California voters in November, will pump $3 billion into stem cell research at California universities and research institutions over the next 10 years. “The question is whether the state should share in any royalty revenue generated from patents under the stem cell initiative,” said Alan Bennett, co-chair of the study group and associate vice chancellor for research at University of California-Davis’ Office of Research, Technology and Industry Alliances. The report on stem cell research is to be completed in June, while the broader report on IP policy is due at the end of the year.

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