Commercial or non-profit organization for the project?

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Profile [AF>Libristes] Dudumomo

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Message 1542 - Posted: 14 Oct 2009, 9:11:31 UTC - in response to Message 1539.  

Thank you very much for taking really care of your volunteers !

So, solutions are already determined with their advantages and disadvantages...

Now you need the opinion of several members right ? What about mailing the users ?
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Message 1543 - Posted: 14 Oct 2009, 9:16:50 UTC - in response to Message 1542.  

Thank you very much for taking really care of your volunteers !

So, solutions are already determined with their advantages and disadvantages...

Now you need the opinion of several members right ? What about mailing the users ?

We've made an announcement in the news on boincstats and yes, mailing is also a good option.
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Profile [AF>Libristes>GNU-Linux] xipehuz

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Message 1544 - Posted: 14 Oct 2009, 20:30:27 UTC

Here's my 2 cents :

1/ Most people I know (and the overwhelming majority of current crunchers, I would guess) don't want to and will not crunch for money. Period.

2/ What we don't want either is for recipients of our crunching power (i.e. the projects owners/admins) to make money out of our CPUs/GPUs and not give back the results to the community.
I'm sorry, but telling the volunteer crunchers that it's for the "common good" that their crunching power is used by drug companies to make treatments that will end up earning them billions of dollars is not going to fool them.
Therefore, what you will have to do is to convince us (the Boinc community) that the results of our calculations will be made available to the scientific community on reasonable terms.
Apparently, that's what happened with Aqua@Home, which is run by a commercial entity and used to be a "not-recommanded" project for l'AF, but changed status a few months ago after they made some serious commitment to an open disclosure of their/our results and explained to us how our calculations would not be "tied" to a proprietary product.

What I'm trying to say, based on what I learned from the Aqua@Home experience, is that the Boinc community can understand the patent problem, which is a requirement for drug companies to develop new drugs, only if it can see the results of its calculations beeing shared among scientists and not used for the sole purpose of fattening the bottom line of a commercial company.

I don't exactly know how patents work, but if every researcher who wants to use the results of our calculations for fundamental research must pay you or your partner some fee, then you will lose your volunteers. On the other hand, if our results are made available to (not for profit) research groups or scientists, then it should be fine with the Boinc community.

At least, this is how I feel it would be perceived.

Cheers
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Message 1549 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 6:14:20 UTC - in response to Message 1513.  
Last modified: 15 Oct 2009, 6:23:10 UTC

Well, a lot of team and participants pay very attention of the statuts of the research.
For example, in l'AF if a projet is a commercial project (the results are not published), even if it still helps science, l'AF will rank this project into a cat called "non recommanded" project.
Hence, only few people crunch on that...

There are several cases like that.
IMO, the project can be a commercial entity, but the research has to be published/free/open.
If there are several companies which can have access to these results, the science will even go faster. Obviously, the project (whatever it is a non for profit or not) has a real advantage and then can be the first to enter into the market/create something based on the results (and even put a patent on their products as long as the results are "open")

But the most suitable for the community is a non commercial entity for a better transparancy.

But you can try to conciliate both aspect.


If we'll make a commercial entity and make research results be published and freely available - will AF recommend it? For example we just don't want to make both non-profit and commercial entities and we plan to make money not on Drugdiscovery@home but on other services and we'll use commercial entity just to get grant support directly for DD@H with transparent financial policy for users too, is it ok?
I mean we don't want to make Drugdiscovery@home commercial, we just consider to give other services than drugdiscovery@home project and don't want to take upon ourselves care both on non-profit and commercial organizations.


Currently, Rosetta@home makes the results from their BOINC workunits publicly available about as soon as they write research papers summarizing them, but also offers copies of all their software (or at least lets their university do it), at a charge, to those who want to use it for commercial purposes, probably only on an internal computer network. I've forgotten if they also have a division that does work they charge for, but on their own computers instead of computers volunteers provide. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Also, the last time I checked, World Community Grid was still a division of IBM and not officially declared non-profit even though this division hasn't made any profits yet, and the projects they offer are all required to come from non-profit groups. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Look at how many participants both of them have attracted. I suspect that both allow attaching patents to the results, to keep more information about the BOINC projects attached, as long as no charge is made for the use of those patents.

Would there be any problem with making drugdiscoveryathome a non-profit division of a for-profit company that can offer the software for sale, but also offer the results of the drugdiscoveryathome workunits to the public free of charge after a reasonable time for the non-profit division to write research papers on them? If the software is sold to pharma companies, they then have the choice of keeping any use of it within their company (and possibly also computers within the for-profit division), and therefore using it to qualify for a for-profit patent, without letting the public execute any of the workunits they create.
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Message 1550 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 6:45:20 UTC - in response to Message 1544.  


What I'm trying to say, based on what I learned from the Aqua@Home experience, is that the Boinc community can understand the patent problem, which is a requirement for drug companies to develop new drugs, only if it can see the results of its calculations beeing shared among scientists and not used for the sole purpose of fattening the bottom line of a commercial company.

I don't exactly know how patents work, but if every researcher who wants to use the results of our calculations for fundamental research must pay you or your partner some fee, then you will lose your volunteers. On the other hand, if our results are made available to (not for profit) research groups or scientists, then it should be fine with the Boinc community.

At least, this is how I feel it would be perceived.

Cheers


Thank you very much for your answer. This is the same as our goal - to help science making new drugs. But not just help science, but also to help make real drugs. So patent can help in this way. Each patent can have requirement of sharing information with scientists. For each pharma company it's important that the results can not be commercialized by someone else, but it can be ok if these results will be available for each scientist for scientific research purposes only.
Generally patent work the next way: there is a number of interesting compounds,
pharma company invests about 500 millions -1 billion forclinical trials and improvement of these compounds and they want to be sure that they will get these money back. So main purpose of patent - not let other pharma use these compounds until pharma which has made huge investments will get its money back (it has 20 years protection for it and from these 20 years about 6-10 will be for the research and only 10-14 for sales).Patent helps to protect these huge investments to fit the FDA's rules. But what can we do: 1) reduce these costs 2) make results available for scientific community, yes, of course,
And if we go into big pharma policies - they make billions because they invest billions and if we can reduce costs of drug elaboration the prices on drugs will fall too and some of such requirements can be included for each patent owner. And anyway for now the project is purely scientific so if even we go into some relations to pharma this would be a long time from now and only in case if we succeed, but we want to discuss it with you now, in the begining.
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Message 1551 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 6:49:45 UTC - in response to Message 1549.  
Last modified: 15 Oct 2009, 6:55:28 UTC


Currently, Rosetta@home makes the results from their BOINC workunits publicly available about as soon as they write research papers summarizing them, but also offers copies of all their software (or at least lets their university do it), at a charge, to those who want to use it for commercial purposes, probably only on an internal computer network. I've forgotten if they also have a division that does work they charge for, but on their own computers instead of computers volunteers provide. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Also, the last time I checked, World Community Grid was still a division of IBM and not officially declared non-profit even though this division hasn't made any profits yet, and the projects they offer are all required to come from non-profit groups. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Look at how many participants both of them have attracted. I suspect that both allow attaching patents to the results, to keep more information about the BOINC projects attached, as long as no charge is made for the use of those patents.

Would there be any problem with making drugdiscoveryathome a non-profit division of a for-profit company that can offer the software for sale, but also offer the results of the drugdiscoveryathome workunits to the public free of charge after a reasonable time for the non-profit division to write research papers on them? If the software is sold to pharma companies, they then have the choice of keeping any use of it within their company (and possibly also computers within the for-profit division), and therefore using it to qualify for a for-profit patent, without letting the public execute any of the workunits they create.


Actually Rosetta@home is absolutely not the same as our case. They sell software, but make freely available the results. But they don't make new drugs. This is still rather fundamental project. And what we can do is a bit vice versa. We can make any software available either for commercial organizations or non-profits, but the main result are compounds as drug-candidates which can be made available for public and scientific community after patenting (remember compound without patent can't become a new drug).
And if we make results available before patenting then we'll just make a gift to some pharma companies, which will take these results, make patents and say "Thank you!" to us (or maybe even say nothing).
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Message 1552 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 6:54:27 UTC - in response to Message 1549.  
Last modified: 15 Oct 2009, 7:34:08 UTC


Currently, Rosetta@home makes the results from their BOINC workunits publicly available about as soon as they write research papers summarizing them, but also offers copies of all their software (or at least lets their university do it), at a charge, to those who want to use it for commercial purposes, probably only on an internal computer network. I've forgotten if they also have a division that does work they charge for, but on their own computers instead of computers volunteers provide. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Also, the last time I checked, World Community Grid was still a division of IBM and not officially declared non-profit even though this division hasn't made any profits yet, and the projects they offer are all required to come from non-profit groups. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?


Yes, indeed ! As long as the results are freely available and they don't make money with our computers, l'AF will not put this project as a "non recommanded" project

And if we make results available before patenting then we'll just make a gift to some pharma companies, which will take these results, make patents and say "Thank you!" to us (or maybe even say nothing).


Yeah that's true....Difficult to search for real new drugs without a commercial entity...(Even if I don't really like this idea)
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Message 1555 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 7:08:40 UTC - in response to Message 1552.  
Last modified: 15 Oct 2009, 7:13:02 UTC


That's an interesting point ! What do you think Andrew ?


We've made posts almost at once, see my answer above :) Please, don't make analogies with other projects, at least Rosetta@home is much more fundamental project. Any projects which deals with drug discovery should go into collaborations with pharma companies and make patents or this won't be a drug making project. So main thing here is "how, when, what etc" disclose the information. But now after this discussion I now see rather clearly the policy. There are some things which we can't change - like making patents and collaborations with pharma (this is 100% required for making really new drugs and is in the basis of project conception as "making drugs" project). But some things which we can influence like financial etc reports, non profit or commercial organization and scientific results reports.
So as far as commercial or non-profit status of organization is not so important we'll do the next things:
1) Commercial organization, LLC
2) Non-profit project
3) Disclosure as much as possible in : a) scientific report b) financial report
4) All results will be available at public, some before or some after the patenting
5) Each patent (if we'll succeed in getting any) will be handled by taking into account volunteer's opinion (it can be made public, it can be sold, rented with some conditions etc. etc.) in case if this patent will directly result from distributed computing.
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Message 1557 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 7:33:19 UTC - in response to Message 1555.  
Last modified: 15 Oct 2009, 7:34:55 UTC

Thanks Andrew.
The 4th point is a bit...vague while it is one of the most important one.
Can you be a bit clearer. For example the list of what will be and won't be. (I know you can't say dress an accurate list, but may be some categories,...)

And also, will the actual DD team in charge of the project or someone else ? (Commercial company).
For example, you discover interesting things and want a patent for that. If volunteers want it to be freely available after a vote, will you respect it ? (I guess the majority of volunteers will vote to be freely available, especially if they are not really aware of what is it.), so that's why you said "Each patent will be handled by taking into account volunteer's opinion"

But, sell a patent to a commercial entity is also a really good idea if all the money collected go through the project in order to find a new drug again, and so on.
It can see it, not as a profit but as a working capital...
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Message 1559 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 8:09:46 UTC - in response to Message 1557.  
Last modified: 15 Oct 2009, 8:28:10 UTC

Thanks Andrew.
The 4th point is a bit...vague while it is one of the most important one.
Can you be a bit clearer. For example the list of what will be and won't be. (I know you can't say dress an accurate list, but may be some categories,...)

For example, you discover interesting things and want a patent for that. If volunteers want it to be freely available after a vote, will you respect it?


Ok, let's go into examples.
For example we will get some compounds which are patented already but their mechanism of action is not known. And in our project research we will understand the mechanism. So this is more scientific than drug discovery interest. Then we prepare paper and make results freely available.
Example 2: We discover compound which can be a drug - we 'll patent it and then make the results freely available for scientists (not pharma - because of patent protection). Then we'll try to collaborate on it with pharma companies. If a lot of pharma will be interested we can put additional conditions into it according to realistic volunteer's proposals. Freely available patent is meaningless for drug discovery at least if it has some value (and if it don't we won't spend money on making it). So we'll better explain that point to volunteers.
The very important point here is that in silico drug discovery is rather weak now without experimental collaboration and even if we make great technology the impact of our collaborators can be more than impact of distributed computing and volunteers. And very important in each case will be opinion of collaborators. There should be some balance between impacts of different organizations and volunteers in such collaboration. So if we go into very details it's really hard to foresee everything now. It will be separate in different cases. We can just define several basic principles and any details are kind of speculative now. For example if we'll have enough money we can order compounds synthesis and biological trials and then handle the total results - this will be another case then. And let's say purely speculatively if we get some huge grant we can even make the total drug development process without any patents and making the results totally available and even with a very big grant even supply some drugs to developing countries and poor people (purely imaginary situation). So each case will be different without doubt.

And also, will the actual DD team in charge of the project or someone else ? (Commercial company).


It should be actual DD team with united vote and this is one of kind of guarantees for volunteers.



But, sell a patent to a commercial entity is also a really good idea if all the money collected go through the project in order to find a new drug again, and so on.It can see it, not as a profit but as a working capital...


That will be our strategy! And it was supposed even before we've started the project. That is what we need to discover new drugs - working capital, not profits.
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Message 1560 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 12:42:29 UTC - in response to Message 1551.  
Last modified: 15 Oct 2009, 12:44:21 UTC


Currently, Rosetta@home makes the results from their BOINC workunits publicly available about as soon as they write research papers summarizing them, but also offers copies of all their software (or at least lets their university do it), at a charge, to those who want to use it for commercial purposes, probably only on an internal computer network. I've forgotten if they also have a division that does work they charge for, but on their own computers instead of computers volunteers provide. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Also, the last time I checked, World Community Grid was still a division of IBM and not officially declared non-profit even though this division hasn't made any profits yet, and the projects they offer are all required to come from non-profit groups. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Look at how many participants both of them have attracted. I suspect that both allow attaching patents to the results, to keep more information about the BOINC projects attached, as long as no charge is made for the use of those patents.

Would there be any problem with making drugdiscoveryathome a non-profit division of a for-profit company that can offer the software for sale, but also offer the results of the drugdiscoveryathome workunits to the public free of charge after a reasonable time for the non-profit division to write research papers on them? If the software is sold to pharma companies, they then have the choice of keeping any use of it within their company (and possibly also computers within the for-profit division), and therefore using it to qualify for a for-profit patent, without letting the public execute any of the workunits they create.


Actually Rosetta@home is absolutely not the same as our case. They sell software, but make freely available the results. But they don't make new drugs. This is still rather fundamental project. And what we can do is a bit vice versa. We can make any software available either for commercial organizations or non-profits, but the main result are compounds as drug-candidates which can be made available for public and scientific community after patenting (remember compound without patent can't become a new drug).
And if we make results available before patenting then we'll just make a gift to some pharma companies, which will take these results, make patents and say "Thank you!" to us (or maybe even say nothing).


I've seen little sign that many pharmaceutical companies are very interested in testing whether compounds are useful as drugs unless they can patent them, and therefore hold an exclusive right to sell them, for long enough for profits from the ones that succeed to pay for all the work needed to test them and all the other drug candidates they during the same time period. Just a patent, without the exclusive right to sell them, is very seldom enough.
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Message 1561 - Posted: 15 Oct 2009, 18:12:47 UTC - in response to Message 1560.  
Last modified: 15 Oct 2009, 18:16:29 UTC


Currently, Rosetta@home makes the results from their BOINC workunits publicly available about as soon as they write research papers summarizing them, but also offers copies of all their software (or at least lets their university do it), at a charge, to those who want to use it for commercial purposes, probably only on an internal computer network. I've forgotten if they also have a division that does work they charge for, but on their own computers instead of computers volunteers provide. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Also, the last time I checked, World Community Grid was still a division of IBM and not officially declared non-profit even though this division hasn't made any profits yet, and the projects they offer are all required to come from non-profit groups. Does that make l'AF decide they are a "non recommanded" project?

Look at how many participants both of them have attracted. I suspect that both allow attaching patents to the results, to keep more information about the BOINC projects attached, as long as no charge is made for the use of those patents.

Would there be any problem with making drugdiscoveryathome a non-profit division of a for-profit company that can offer the software for sale, but also offer the results of the drugdiscoveryathome workunits to the public free of charge after a reasonable time for the non-profit division to write research papers on them? If the software is sold to pharma companies, they then have the choice of keeping any use of it within their company (and possibly also computers within the for-profit division), and therefore using it to qualify for a for-profit patent, without letting the public execute any of the workunits they create.


Actually Rosetta@home is absolutely not the same as our case. They sell software, but make freely available the results. But they don't make new drugs. This is still rather fundamental project. And what we can do is a bit vice versa. We can make any software available either for commercial organizations or non-profits, but the main result are compounds as drug-candidates which can be made available for public and scientific community after patenting (remember compound without patent can't become a new drug).
And if we make results available before patenting then we'll just make a gift to some pharma companies, which will take these results, make patents and say "Thank you!" to us (or maybe even say nothing).


I've seen little sign that many pharmaceutical companies are very interested in testing whether compounds are useful as drugs unless they can patent them, and therefore hold an exclusive right to sell them, for long enough for profits from the ones that succeed to pay for all the work needed to test them and all the other drug candidates they during the same time period. Just a patent, without the exclusive right to sell them, is very seldom enough.


That's right and why not? Everything can be regulated by some additional conditions in the patent for example. But each case is separate and as I've said before all details are rather speculative now. We can gurantee just some basic things and then to consider each separate case, but I guess this should be enough to get support of majority of volunteers and if we succeed in some drug development then it will be enough even for pulling volunteers from some other projects. Because our main goal is making new cheaper and more effective drugs and if we really succee–≤ in this then there is no reasons for volunteers not to contribute to the project.
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Message 1562 - Posted: 16 Oct 2009, 6:14:00 UTC - in response to Message 1561.  

I've seen little sign that many pharmaceutical companies are very interested in testing whether compounds are useful as drugs unless they can patent them, and therefore hold an exclusive right to sell them, for long enough for profits from the ones that succeed to pay for all the work needed to test them and all the other drug candidates they during the same time period. Just a patent, without the exclusive right to sell them, is very seldom enough.


That's right and why not? Everything can be regulated by some additional conditions in the patent for example. But each case is separate and as I've said before all details are rather speculative now. We can gurantee just some basic things and then to consider each separate case, but I guess this should be enough to get support of majority of volunteers and if we succeed in some drug development then it will be enough even for pulling volunteers from some other projects. Because our main goal is making new cheaper and more effective drugs and if we really succee–≤ in this then there is no reasons for volunteers not to contribute to the project.


I doubt if inside the patent is the proper place to put those extra conditions, but it looks like a good idea to get a patent lawyer's opinion on that before actually trying it. I'd consider a separate document for granting a pharmaceutical company the use of whatever was patented more appropriate.

Aso for our different ideas of what the pharmaceutical companies are likely to be interested in buying, I'd expect the opinions of pharmaceutical company executives to be more important than either of our opinions, so it looks like time to ask some of those executives for their opinions.

As for the opinions of the volunteers, it looks like time for more of them to post just what their opinions are, instead of just going elsewhere if they disagree with you.
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Message 1563 - Posted: 16 Oct 2009, 8:30:24 UTC

As a non-profit organization, DD@H would sit well in the BOINC community, I'm not sure how it would be seen if it became a commercial entity.

If it was commercial, would we still be volunteers or would we receive payment for credits or dividend payments.
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Message 1564 - Posted: 16 Oct 2009, 9:46:10 UTC - in response to Message 1563.  
Last modified: 16 Oct 2009, 9:46:51 UTC

As a non-profit organization, DD@H would sit well in the BOINC community, I'm not sure how it would be seen if it became a commercial entity.

I'm definitivly agree with that.

If it was commercial, would we still be volunteers or would we receive payment for credits or dividend payments.

Well, they have already proposed that, without any success, because the majority of volunteers are crunching for science and not for money.
Some people would like to crunch for money, I'm sure, but this is only marginal.
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Message 1565 - Posted: 16 Oct 2009, 14:55:06 UTC - in response to Message 1564.  
Last modified: 16 Oct 2009, 15:03:29 UTC

As a non-profit organization, DD@H would sit well in the BOINC community, I'm not sure how it would be seen if it became a commercial entity.

I'm definitivly agree with that.

If it was commercial, would we still be volunteers or would we receive payment for credits or dividend payments.

Well, they have already proposed that, without any success, because the majority of volunteers are crunching for science and not for money.
Some people would like to crunch for money, I'm sure, but this is only marginal.



Well anyway non profit project can be run by commercial entity like World community grid.
So we have described in details above why our project won't be commercial in common sense of the word. No profit means - no profits at the end of the year, this is main definition for any non profit organizations and projects etc.

It also worths to underline main thing about patents: if we make new biologically active compounds published before the patent then some pharma companies will take them, modify, test modified compounds and make patent anyway and only such company/companies will benefit, but if we make patent then we can influence the destiny of such compounds. The choice is pretty clear here, isn't it?
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Message 1566 - Posted: 16 Oct 2009, 16:18:19 UTC - in response to Message 1564.  

We will be consulting patent attorneys before moving on patents. There are some issues regarding what you publish before patent. As I understand it, once you do patent, you automatically disclose details of your research which can be useful for other scientists depending on their objectives.
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Message 1567 - Posted: 16 Oct 2009, 17:47:56 UTC - in response to Message 1566.  

We will be consulting patent attorneys before moving on patents. There are some issues regarding what you publish before patent. As I understand it, once you do patent, you automatically disclose details of your research which can be useful for other scientists depending on their objectives.


Sure.
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Message 1568 - Posted: 17 Oct 2009, 8:25:46 UTC

Something to think about: Once you send something out in a workunit, would that count as publishing before you get a patent? In other words, it's a good idea to start talking to both a patent attorney and some pharmaceutical company executives before you decide that the end result of anything sent out as workunits will be sold. Otherwise, you could easily end up giving away much of what is produced as part of the publicly available patents, and find that the pharmaceutical companies have little interest in starting points with that much already made available to their competitors.
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Message 1569 - Posted: 17 Oct 2009, 10:19:15 UTC - in response to Message 1568.  
Last modified: 17 Oct 2009, 10:34:23 UTC

Something to think about: Once you send something out in a workunit, would that count as publishing before you get a patent? In other words, it's a good idea to start talking to both a patent attorney and some pharmaceutical company executives before you decide that the end result of anything sent out as workunits will be sold. Otherwise, you could easily end up giving away much of what is produced as part of the publicly available patents, and find that the pharmaceutical companies have little interest in starting points with that much already made available to their competitors.


No, in silico data actually worth nothing before the experiment. So this doesn't count as an intellectual property yet.
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