Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Helms, Lelia B

First Committee Member

Hamot, Greg

Second Committee Member

Henkin, Alan

Third Committee Member

Pascarella, Ernest

Fourth Committee Member

Hollingworth, Liz


The purpose of this study is to identify trends and issues related to college and university involvement in patent litigation. The study found 568 reported cases between 1980 through 2009. From this initial set of cases, detailed review identified 171 patent-related lawsuits involving a college or university. A three-pronged approach to analysis was then conducted. First, analysis focused on characteristics of the parties involved in litigation. Second, the types of patents at issue were analyzed. Third, the procedural and substantive results of the lawsuits were analyzed to identify patterns of activities which contributed to the university involvement in the lawsuit. The 85 universities identified in this study were most often public research universities suing corporations for infringement in order to protect their rights in a university-owned patent. These corporations were most frequently competitors of a corporation with whom the university had an existing licensing agreement. While most of the universities in this study were involved in only one lawsuit, a select few were involved in multiple lawsuits with five universities involved in one-fourth of the lawsuits in the cases identified. All the patents included in this study were utility patents, with pharmaceutical patents being the most common subject of litigation. About one-fourth of the lawsuits were decided for procedural reasons and more than one-third had indeterminate dispositions. When the court issued a substantive ruling, it was most often based on the technical requirements of patent law. When the universities' opposing party had an existing relationship with the university (patent licensees, research partner, faculty, staff, and students) the university was as often the plaintiff as it was the defendant. These cases provided the most salient lessons for university administrators looking to minimize the institution's risk of future patent litigation. The study concludes with recommendations focused on activities for a campus technology transfer office, as well as on ways to work with constituent groups of faculty, staff, and students to minimize the risk of future patent litigation.


college, intellectual property, lawsuit, litigation, patent, university


xvii, 229 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 216-229).


Copyright 2011 Maria Teresita Barker