Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/08/2004 01:33 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
         HB 282-UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEE RESEARCH CONTRACTS                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGH FATE,  the bill  sponsor, testified  that HB
282 allows  the president of  the university to contract  with an                                                               
employee of the university for  intellectual property specific to                                                               
the   research  done   by  that   employee.     This  contractual                                                               
arrangement benefits not only the  university, but also the state                                                               
because  of  the  potential  for   accrued  proceeds  from  these                                                               
business relationships through profit  and royalties.  This takes                                                               
pressure off of  recruitment and helps to  retain top professors;                                                               
it supplements  their incomes, but  also supplements  the income,                                                               
regard, and prestige of the university  for which they work.  The                                                               
bill has  been held up  before because of  regulations concerning                                                               
ethics,   as  it's   not  allowed   under  current   statute  and                                                               
regulation.   Many  universities have  done this.   For  example,                                                               
there were over 500 patents  from Stanford alone, this past year.                                                               
This also  takes pressure off  of the  general fund in  the event                                                               
that business enterprises are wildly successful.                                                                                
SENATOR LYDA GREEN expressed concern.   She referred to the third                                                               
paragraph  of President  Mark Hamilton's  letter  of support  and                                                               
read as follows:  "Such  constraints tend to force researchers to                                                               
choose  between  exporting  their intellectual  property  without                                                               
continuing support,  and giving  up their  university employment.                                                               
This climate  provides little incentive for  researchers to focus                                                               
on  technologies that  are subject  to  commercialization."   She                                                               
said  it seems  simple  that  during an  employee's  tenure as  a                                                               
professor  or researcher  - whether  through  grant, federal,  or                                                               
state funding  - that the  information gained would  certainly be                                                               
the university's property  as well.  She remarked  that the issue                                                               
is that  an employee  can leave  with that  intellectual property                                                               
without the university  accruing anything.  "I have  an idea that                                                               
problem is bigger  than we are, and that's probably  a subject of                                                               
debate all  across universities in  the world."  She  pointed out                                                               
that in the private market this would never be allowed.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE said  he couldn't  specifically answer  that                                                               
concern,  but those  items  would  probably be  taken  up in  the                                                               
contracts and  agreements.   "In our  particular case  because we                                                               
have not done much of this, it would be uncertain in my mind."                                                                  
SENATOR GREEN responded  that this was a very  important issue to                                                               
be   taking  up,   emphasizing  that   the  protection   of  that                                                               
information and the benefit accruing  to the university - if it's                                                               
done in  the university  lab, on computers,  with help,  with the                                                               
whole thing that goes with it - was her main concern.                                                                           
CHAIR  DYSON asked  if contrary  or negative  testimony had  been                                                               
heard on this bill.                                                                                                             
MR.  JIM  POUND, Staff  to  Representative  Fate, responded  that                                                               
negative  comments  had not  been  offered  in the  other  body's                                                               
committee process.                                                                                                              
SENATOR GARY  WILKEN moved to  report HB 282 from  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations  [and zero fiscal notes,  as mentioned                                                               
by the Chair].                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  DYSON  asked if  there  was  any  objection.   Seeing  and                                                               
hearing none, it was so ordered.                                                                                                

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