UR is currently petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review its case to protect a university patent. The patent covers university research on cylooxygenase-2, an enzyme linked to causing inflammation of the stomach lining. The research was used in the development of Celebrex and Bextra, two popular drugs manufactured by Pfizer. The university, however, did not receive a share of the profits.The university should benefit from being the source of valuable research that leads to the development and sale of the drug. This is a valid claim, as the research was an important element in the development of such drugs. Without our research, Pfizer would not have made the drugs nor collected the profit from their sale.Regrettably, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit did not agree with the university’s position. Although the panel of judges turned down the request for a hearing in front of the entire 12-member court by a vote of seven to five, four of the five believed the case was worth hearing. It makes it even more important that fellow leading research universities are supportive of our case, as the rights of all research done by universities come into question. The university has allotted millions of dollars in the rightful defense of the case. If the case is heard by the Supreme Court and they side with the university, Pfizer would have to pay an undetermined sum for use of the patent as well as potentially cover UR’s court costs. The exact figures are unknown, but the financial gain for the university would be substantial. The university will put the money where it thinks best, which could include supporting other research and bolstering the endowment. Although the cost is high and the odds are against the case being heard, the possibility of such a large financial gain is worth the effort. Winning the case and the money also brings respect back to university research and sets a precedent in patent law. Fighting for the case alone is a reinvestment into our already-strong research programs.

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