October 17, 2014
CONTENTS: EXECUTIVE BRANCH
Associations Comment on Revisions to USPTO Guidance on Patenting Natural Products
AAU and COGR Comment on Proposed Rules on Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards
AAU President's Op-Ed Links Smartphone to Federally Funded University Research
AAU to Launch New Website Homepage
Updated "AAU by the Numbers" Highlights the Impact of AAU Universities
ASSOCIATIONS COMMENT ON REVISIONS TO USPTO GUIDANCE ON PATENTING NATURAL PRODUCTS
A group of six higher education associations, including AAU, submitted comments
to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on October 16 regarding
the agency's proposed revisions to its March Guidance on patenting
natural phenomena and products.
In the new document, which supplements
they submitted to USPTO on this issue in July, the associations express
concern that USPTO officials have suggested at recent public events
that the March Guidance might be further revised before the final
version is published. Given the "profound impact" that any revised
guidance would have on the life sciences community, the associations
write, the agency should issue any newly revised guidance in draft form
for public comment so that the patent community and the public can offer
their views on any substantive proposed changes.
On the substance of the
guidance document, the associations reiterate their strong concern that
the USPTO's overly broad language will impede universities from securing
patent protection, hindering their ability to translate important
discoveries into new, useful products.
The initial comments on the March Guidance were submitted on July 28
by AAU, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the
Association of University Technology Managers, and the Council on
Governmental Relations. The four were joined in submitting the October
15 comments by the American Council on Education and the Association of
American Medical Colleges.
AAU AND COGR COMMENT ON PROPOSED RULES ON CHEMICAL FACILITY ANTI-TERRORISM STANDARDS
AAU and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) have submitted
to the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) in response to an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking
on the agency's Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). The
associations' comments primarily reiterate their view that research and
teaching laboratories at nonprofit research organizations should be
exempt from the CFATS because the standards are designed to regulate the
security of high-risk chemical facilities, not universities. COGR and
AAU note that, unlike at industrial chemical facilities, chemicals at
universities are of limited quantities and dispersed among various
laboratories, buildings, and campuses. For that reason, they note,
"the risk and possibility that these chemicals could be stolen in the
masses required to produce a national security threat are low."
AAU PRESIDENT'S OP-ED LINKS SMARTPHONE TO FEDERALLY FUNDED UNIVERSITY RESEARCH
In an op-ed published on the U.S. News and World Report
website on October 16, AAU President Hunter Rawlings traces many of
the technical features of today's smartphones back to their roots in
federally funded university research.
Rawlings notes that without the university research behind the
smartphone, phones would be bulkier with bigger batteries,
location-based services would not exist, and without chips or memory,
phones would be empty aluminum shells. "All of these components got
their starts at research universities," he wrote.
The op-ed complements the new AAU
graphic, "Your Smartphone: Powered by University Research."
UPDATED "AAU BY THE NUMBERS" HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPACT OF AAU UNIVERSITIES
AAU has updated its four-page infographic, AAU By the Numbers,
which uses colorful charts, maps,
and other graphics to show the research, education, and economic
impacts of AAU universities. The document provides facts and figures in
such areas as the percentage of Pell Grant recipients at the 60 U.S.
members of AAU-24 percent of the undergraduate population-and the
percentage of students who graduate from these institutions with no
The graphic also details federal
research expenditures overall and by research agency at the AAU
universities in the U.S., as well as their overall economic impact as
measured by campus expenditures, patents issued, and business start-ups
Among the details:
-- AAU universities performed 58 percent of federally funded university research in 2012.
-- AAU faculty members are at the
top of many fields: AAU universities employ 56 percent of National
Academies members and 63 percent of American Academy of Arts &
rates at AAU universities are significantly higher than the rate at all
four-year institutions. Students who attend AAU schools are less likely
to graduate with debt and less likely to default on the debt they do
-- AAU universities award nearly half of all U.S. doctorates, including 55 percent of U.S. doctorates in STEM fields.
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