University calls for intellectual property rethink

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Use intellectual property to promote growth, not make money.

Delegates at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology IT Summit have heard that the new university will be much more open with its intellectual property than equivalent universities in the US.

The summit has been set up to design the university's policies from the ground up, and to move towards more open standards that would spur research, rather than locking it down for financial benefit.

"Our need to make an impact is greater than our need to get a revenue stream, " said Dr Ibrahim Al Mishari, former chief information officer at Saudi Aramco, the state oil company which is heavily involved with the new university.

"The university will play a role in the new model for technology transfer. Not for the advantage of the university, but for the students and the region."

The approach was warmly welcomed by delegates. Most agreed that the current system is in need of serious reform, and that opening up intellectual property could have real benefits.

"One of the most spectacular examples of prosperity from intellectual property is TCP/IP," said Dr Rob Pennington, chief information officer at the University of Washington.

"Don't tie down your intellectual property to make a few dollars. Instead focus on growing learning and the region."

There was widespread condemnation of the current intellectual property system. One former academic explained that technologies developed by his lab were patented by a major communications company.

But he could not take them on because the results would be financially disastrous if he lost.

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