Field of Science

No Gain for Fenn

Nobel Prize Winner John Fenn has lost a lawsuit which Yale University filed against him, for puportedly securing a personal patent for his invention of a new technique for Mass Spectrometry, without the consent or knowledge of the University. Fenn would have to pay almost 1 million$ to both Yale and the NIH, which funded his work. Ironically, it was Fenn himself who had filed a suit against Yale, when they had asked him recently to transfer the patent back on to their name. As per contract, any patent which a researcher files when he/she is working in a University, largely belongs to the University. Fenn has defended his case by saying that at the time he invented the technique called Electrospray Ionization (EI), neither Yale nor the NIH seemed interested in his work, and that led him to file a patent on his own.
Fenn won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2002 for developing EI, a technique that is of great value in determining the structure of large biomolecules, especially proteins.

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