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The public university is sometimes the outside world’s most visible representation of another state’s individuality. Citizens in the university’s home state expect the institution to serve them. The research and development of new patents is an accepted part of a university’s mission these days. Citizens hoping to benefit from these new inventions, however, may be disappointed when they learn they’re actually paying twice for the same inventions.

As the statutory and case law stands now, universities enjoy a “favored patent party” status among patent holders. Using the doctrine of sovereign immunity as a shield, public universities are not subject to the same specter of possible lawsuits that helps keep many private companies focused on avoiding mistakes and doing no harm. This point was amply illustrated in Tegic Communication Corp. v. Board of Regents of the University of Texas System, 458 F.3d 1335 (Fed. Cir. 2006), a case decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in August.

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