Times have changed. Science is no longer “a perfect working model of democracy,” so transparent that it does not need supervision by outsiders. Instead, science is now regulated at the federal and state level. At the federal level, laws and regulations require peer review meetings for research at state public universities to ensure compliance with federal funding mandates. At the state level, the Washington Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) requires that peer review meetings at state universities be open to the public. When a scientist presents during one of these peer review meetings, the state university may lose patent rights because the presentation may contain intellectual property information that, once made public, forfeits patentability. This is certainly true for foreign patent rights and, in more limited circumstances, also true for rights under United States patent law. Though OPMA has exemptions that allow for closed sessions to discuss sensitive information, these exemptions do not encompass patent rights. This scheme conflicts not only with foreign and federal patent law goals, but also with the Washington Public Records Act (PRA). This Comment argues that OPMA should be amended to preserve a state university’s patent rights, consistent with patent law goals and the PRA.
Notes and Comments,
Open for Trouble: Amending Washington's Open Public Meetings Act to Preserve University Patent Rights,
86 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol86/iss2/6