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UWA Seeks Leave to Appeal Gray Decision

Issued: October 01 2009

The University of Western Australia is seeking leave to appeal the Full Federal Court decision handed down last month which confirmed Justice Robert French's decision last year that the intellectual property rights in inventions made by Bruce Gray during the course of his employment with the university were owned by the professor – and not the university – because, while he was under a duty to conduct research, he was not under a duty to invent, write Allens Arthur Robinson partner Richard Hamer and senior associate Louise Brunero on the firm’s web site.   


Gray is a former professor of surgery at UWA and founder of biotech company Sirtex Medical.


In a statement to the press, UWA vice-chancellor Alan Robson said the university would seek leave to appeal against the Full Court decision because it challenged the principles upon which universities operate when requiring employees to undertake research duties at universities while using public funds.


“This course of action is a matter of principle because the judgment has important ramifications for all university-initiated research,” said Robson. “It could stem the potential flow on benefits of intellectual property resulting from such research to the broader community. Research and innovation undertaken within universities, by their very nature, build on the work of those who have gone before. We must ensure that this research – which will almost always be done for the benefit of the broader community – is recognised as university IP.”


Hamer and Brunero note that “while the distinctiveness of a university such as the UWA and of academic employment in it was central to the Full Court's reasons, it will be interesting to see whether the High Court makes a similar distinction and upholds the conclusions of Justice French and the Full Court.”


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