01/10/2009 - 15:47

UWA takes Gray/Sirtex case to High Court

01/10/2009 - 15:47

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The University of Western Australia has taken its long-running legal dispute with Dr Bruce Gray, a former staff member and founder of profitable biotechnology company Sirtex Medical, to the High Court.

UWA takes Gray/Sirtex case to High Court

The University of Western Australia has taken its long-running legal dispute with Dr Bruce Gray, a former staff member and founder of profitable biotechnology company Sirtex Medical, to the High Court.

The appeal stems from a 2008 ruling by former federal court judge Robert French, who rejected the university's claim it was the rightful owner of Dr Gray's equity in Sirtex.

The university appealed that ruling to the full federal court, which on 3 September dismissed the appeal.

The university said today that the original ruling challenged the principles upon which universities operate when requiring employees to undertake research duties while using public funds.

Sydney-based Sirtex, which has successfully commercialised a cancer treatment technology, has previously disclosed that it has spent $5.5 million on the dispute.

It is likely that the university and Dr Gray have incurred similar expenses.

While Dr Gray has retained his Sirtex shareholding, worth about $75 million, he has fallen out with the company, lost his position as chairman and become the subject of several related legal claims.

 

 

 

The UWA statement is pasted below:

 

UWA SEEKS LEAVE TO APPEAL TO THE HIGH COURT OVER GRAY DECISION

The University of Western Australia has today sought leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia in a case involving the University's right to protect its investment in intellectual property developed by its staff.

UWA is seeking leave to appeal against the decision of the Full Bench of the Federal Court in UWA v Gray, handed down on 3 September this year.

The Full Bench dismissed an appeal by the University against a decision last year by the Hon Justice Robert French.

Throughout the legal action against a former senior academic employee, Dr Bruce Gray, the University claimed an account of profits received by Dr Gray arising from his assignment of patents developed by him and others while he was employed as a professor of the University.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said that the University would seek leave to appeal against the Full Bench decision because it challenged the principles upon which universities operate when requiring employees to undertake research duties at universities while using public funds.

"This course of action is a matter of principle because the judgment has important ramifications for all university-initiated research. It could stem the potential flow on benefits of intellectual property resulting from such research to the broader community," Professor Robson said.

"Research and innovation undertaken within universities, by their very nature, build on the work of those who have gone before," he said. "We must ensure that this research - which will almost always be done for the benefit of the broader community - is recognised as university IP," Professor Robson said.

Professor Robson said no further comment would be made at this time.

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