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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Inventor to Harvard to Aileron to Roche--Who wins?

Duff Wilson writing for the The New York Times link here, tells us about a deal between Roche, the Swiss drug giant, and a start-up, Aileron, which engages in research involving peptides that are "stapled" to another chemical and can be delivered right into the offending illness cells where they may deliver cures without damaging the body elsewhere a magic bullet. The gee-whiz tone of the article will sell stock and improve the chances that boards will approve the drill little different from most promotions.

What struck me, however, was that Aileron holds patent rights to the stapled technology from Harvard University and its associated Dana Farber Cancer Institute. So now creating a patent monopoly, granted according to the constitution to individuals ostensibly to encourage innovation, becomes a way to make the university richer than it already is. Harvard is the same place that lost millions from its fat endowment when its then president Larry Summers began giving directions as to how it was to be invested and guessed wrong. Aileron will get a potential minimum gain of $25 million and a maximum of $1.1 billion if Aileron's projections work out. The article doesn't tell us what Harvard gets, beyond the original patent license fee of an undisclosed amount. Or whether the original research was funded by Federal Government research grants as is common or what the individual scientists involved get. A lot seems to be missing from this story.


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