Student claimed university forced him to accept unfair cut in patent deal

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against Harvard University, US, by a former graduate student, who was seeking $10 million (£7.6 million) in compensation. Mark Charest worked with Andrew Myers to create a new class of tetracycline antibiotics, but when their patent was licensed to Harvard spin-out Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, Charest claims he was coerced into accepting an unfairly small share of the royalties.

Charest filed the lawsuit in 2013, and in February 2016, a judge ruled that key portions of the lawsuit could proceed to trial. Details of the settlement are being kept confidential.

However, Brian O’Reilly, the attorney representing Charest, predicts the case will have broad ramifications for academic research. ‘I think that there is a sea change coming with respect to students’ willingness to stand up to the power imbalances they face at large universities,’ O’Reilly tells Chemistry World. ‘Their willingness to stand up for their rights will fundamentally alter the way that universities operate and ensure that the inventive contributions of all students are recognised and rewarded.’

For its part, Harvard will only say that the litigation was ‘resolved on mutually agreeable terms.’

Correction: This article was updated on 12 May 2017 as incorrect financial details of the settlement were included