08/05/2008 - 12:07

UWA to appeal Sirtex decision

08/05/2008 - 12:07

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The University of Western Australia will appeal against a Federal Court decision which ruled in favour of intellectual property claims by its former employee Dr Bruce Gray, founder of Sirtex Medical Ltd.

UWA to appeal Sirtex decision

The University of Western Australia will appeal against a Federal Court decision which ruled in favour of intellectual property claims by its former employee Dr Bruce Gray, founder of Sirtex Medical Ltd.

Following a lengthy 50-day trial held early last year, Federal Court Justice Robert French found the legal foundation of UWA's case did not exist and for that reason its claims against Dr Gray and Sirtex were dismissed.

UWA had claimed that it had rightful ownership of a cancer treatment technology - currently being commercialised by Sirtex - which it alleges was developed by Dr Gray during his employment with the university.

At stake was Dr Gray's majority shareholding in Sirtex which Dr Gray's lawyer, Martin Bennett from Lavan Legal, said is worth some $90 million.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the university would appeal against the decision because it challenged the principles upon which all universities operated when requiring employees to undertake research and development using public funds.

 

Below is the full announcement:

The University of Western Australia will appeal against the decision of the Hon Justice Robert French in the Federal Court of Australia dismissing the University's claim with respect to inventions it claimed were developed by Dr Bruce Gray while employed by the University.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the University would appeal against the decision because it challenged the principles upon which all Universities operated when requiring employees to undertake research and development using public funds.

"If the decision is correct, then it is doubtful that any University can assume that it has rights in inventions created by employees during their employment," Professor Robson said.

Professor Robson also said that the University believed that it would be wrong to allow the Federal Court decision to go unchallenged. Until this decision, it had always been accepted that when public funds were invested in University research, the University that oversees it was entitled to control and manage it.

"This decision undermines that accepted principle and is likely to impede the investment of the proceeds of university-initiated research being applied to support and encourage further research and development for the public benefit," he said.

After seeking independent legal advice, the University decided to appeal on the grounds that Justice Robert French made errors of fact and law in relation to the terms implied in Dr Gray's contract of employment with the University, his fiduciary obligations as a senior employee and with respect to the inventions allegedly developed at UWA.

"Research and innovation undertaken within universities, by their very nature, build on the work of those who have gone before," he said.

"It is incumbent upon us to ensure that this research - which will almost always be done for the benefit of the broader community - is appropriately recognised and rewarded," Professor Robson said.

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