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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Row over university ownership rules
Senate House, Cambridge
Academics fear loss of intellectual property rights

The success of cutting-edge industry and research in and around Cambridge could be put in jeopardy by university plans, a new pressure group has warned.

Cambridge University proposes to take control of the ownership of any ideas produced by university staff - which could include discoveries of new medicines or new computer software.

A newly-formed group, the Campaign for Cambridge Freedoms, is fighting the proposed change in university rules.

The university proposal "asserts ownership of all intellectual property generated by its (the university's) employees".

Sir Alec Broers
Sir Alec Broers supports the change

It will go before academics to discuss on 15 October and a vote on the proposals by university staff is likely to be taken by the end of the year.

Dr Mike Clark, a committee member of the Campaign for Cambridge Freedoms, told BBC News Online: "The change of policy is essentially a loss of any legal rights or control over our intellectual property.".

Dr Clark, of the university pathology department, said the growth of hi-tech businesses in the area surrounding Cambridge, which has become known as "Silicon Fen", is due to the liberal rules of the university.


What's proposed is to turn this from a liberal regime which is friendly to business to a really locked down one

Ross Anderson, reader

"This change would slam the door on this. The process of development (of research) would become very bureaucratic," he said.

Ross Anderson, reader in security engineering at the university's computer laboratory, and a committee member, said: "What's proposed is to turn this from a liberal regime which is friendly to business to a really locked down one which has got local businesses really, really scared."

But Susie Baker, director of communications for Cambridge University, defended the rule change.

'Public money'

She said the new rules would "try to recoup public money" spent on providing academics with research facilities.

The university's Vice-Chancellor Sir Alec Broers told the BBC: "The university has a right to a share because I think there are very few true individuals.

"Most people have to rely on others and if they go off on their own that is a rather selfish thing to do."

He believes bringing in the new rules will improve the growth of business opportunities in Cambridge.

He said:"I feel that we're still not capitalising on all our ideas and that the university can play a very effective role in making us more professional in doing that."


Click here to go to Cambridgeshire
See also:

27 Aug 02 | Education
02 Nov 01 | Education
07 Feb 02 | Education
30 Jan 01 | Education
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