Contract sparks row over IP rights

October 24, 2003

A Cambridge academic whose pioneering leukemia drug Campath generates more than £500,000 a year for the university this week revealed how the institution approved disclosure of his research results before publication and without his permission, writes Caroline Davis.

As academics turned out in force to attend the latest stage of discussions on the university's ownership of intellectual property rights, therapeutic immunologist Mike Clark revealed that licensing contracts drawn up by the director of Cambridge's Research Services Division, David Secher, were signed without his involvement.

Dr Clark was also signed up to work overseas for two days a year without his consent.

He said: "When I finally received copies of these agreements I was very surprised, even shocked, at their contents.

"It seems to me that RSD has negotiated completely inappropriate terms, and I very much doubt whether they would have the ability to ensure that the university could meet all of the obligations."

In this week's discussion, Tim Mead, head of administration at Cambridge, announced a wide-ranging review of the RSD.

Ross Anderson, a member of the university council, said: "The policy pursued recently by RSD is like a cancer in the body of the university. It has destroyed trust between the Regent House and the Old Schools."

Richard Lambert, who is carrying out a review of Cambridge business links for the Treasury, has highlighted the RSD as a particular concern.

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