Tom Holub wrote:
> The patent expires on September 20th anyway.

Yeah, so? :)

> The patent process is meant to stimulate technological development by
> allowing companies/inventors time to recoup the costs of
> development.
> Don't ask me what I think about academics who use the resources of
> a university to help develop a technology, and then go private to
> cash in.  Really.

My former job when I left Iowa was doing just that.

As part of the ICSS we had spent some 10 years or so creating digital Soil
Survey maps from USDA/SCS data.  We almost had the entire state completed
when I left in '96, and I had georecitified all the data in Arc/Info.

But on the side we had a startup called PMC, which had purchased the digital
maps from the University research and I wrote a couple of software packages
that utilized the soil maps to perform land valuations.

There was some animosity between us and others at the university, but really
we weren't doing anything that anybody else could have done.  The only
difference was that we had expert knowledge on the history of the digital
data we were using and could thus more easily interpret and use it.

Now there was a conflict of interest, but it was because I was put in a
position where I was still working at the University while I was also
working at the startup.  The conflict was that the chief reason i was still
working there was so my boss could pay my health insurance off the
University payroll rather than his own.  I didn't like the working
arrangements, so I left.

Anyway, I don't see anything necessarily wrong with people at a university
taking work done there and cashing in as long as they don't have some unfair
advantage over others.  Meaning, the work that was done at the University
has been published and available to all on equal terms.  If someone happens
to have expert knowledge in the area, that's their business what they do
with their personal knowledge.

The University cannot own someone's knowledge and experience, just as no
Corporation can.  All they can hope to do is provide incentive for that
individual to remain where they are and continue working for them.