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Intellectual Property in Informatics

Qin Shi, Steve Bent, and Colin Sandercock
Foley & Lardner (law firm)


Exacting optimal value from proprietary technology requires a principled outlook on what technology is worth in the marketplace. For informatics developments, answering this question is complicated by the fact that value in this field derives from information per se: What is the scope and extent of the information generated or addressed by the innovation, and how can it be "mined"? Thus, the proprietor of an informatics invention must carefully assess information value, as a means rather than an end to drug discovery.

Informatics R&D is highly interdisciplinary, as it must integrate domain-specific data with suitable analytical systems and methodologies, themselves the object of new developments in statistical mathematics and computer science, among other disciplines. The technological mix reflected in the different categories of informatics subject matter must be taken into account in formulating an effective strategy for protecting that subject matter.

Similarly, the exploitation of informatics assets lends itself to strategic collaborations which bring together expertise in disparate fields. Consequently, there must be a clear vision of the collaborative arrangement, defining the relationships between the corporate and institutional entities involved in the collaboration.

During this session, we shall examine how intellectual assets may be protected, with an eye to new ways for managing and marketing massive amounts of information in an international context. We also shall consider how effective asset building in this regard opens the way to forging synergistic commercial relationships and, ultimately, to realizing value from the assets.


I. Introduction to IP Principles (40 minutes)

        A. International intellectual property systems: copyright, trade secret, patent

        B. Building business value around IP assets: capital creation, strategic partnering, licensing

II. Protection for Rights in Informatic Innovations (60 minutes/midway break)

        A. Informatics vs. "traditional" sources of IP-asset value

        B. Treating different categories of informatics subject matter: genomics/proteomics, databases, profiles, software applications/analysis methodology

III. Realizing Value from Informatic Assets ( 60 minutes/midway break)

        A. Managing the innovative process (INTX)

        B. Practical routes to commercialization, such as:

                (1) TIGR/SmithKline (joint venture)

                (2) Millenium/Bristol Myers (licensing/service)

                (3) "Internet portal" option

                (4) Incyte/Affymetrix (litigation)