PhD chemist seeks damages in row over patent royalties

Chemistry graduate Mark Charest has filed a lawsuit against his former university and advisor seeking $10 million (£6.6 million) in a dispute over royalties.

The suit concerns a patent resulting from Charest’s work on tetracycline antibiotic synthesis under the supervision of chemical biology professor Andrew Myers at Harvard University in the US. Charest alleges he was not properly compensated for his work, and is seeking a redistribution of the royalties and additional damages. He claims that in 2005, the year after he received his PhD, he was coerced into accepting a smaller share of patent royalties than he would have otherwise been allocated under Harvard’s intellectual property policy. In 2009, Charest lost a further 45% of his royalties when they were allocated to a new patent on which he wasn’t listed as an author.

Harvard defended its actions in a statement, saying in this case the university’s intellectual property policy was ‘properly designed, and appropriately implemented’. Attempts to reach a settlement out of court have so far been unsuccessful.