In the latest chapter of a long running dispute involving RNA interference (aka gene silencing), the University of Utah filed suit against officials of the University of Massachusetts and a number of other parties (just after those parties themselves had settled their internal dispute) to have one of Utah’s professors named as an inventor on two potentially very valuable patents. The defendants moved to dismiss on two grounds, (1) claiming that any dispute between U. Utah and U. Mass. officials belongs exclusively before the Supreme Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1251(a), and (2) the claims of inventorship are not plausible.
Both motions were denied. Judge Saris (who has been saddled with these cases for years) ruled that the dispute in federal court was proper because, among other reasons, the relief requested was prospective rather than one seeking damages (and therefore fell within an exception to exclusive Supreme Court jurisdiction). Judge Saris also ruled that the complaint alleged sufficient facts to survive the challenge under Rule 12(b)(6).
University of Utah v. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Wissenschaften e.V., 11-10484-PBS (June 11, 2012)