Academic researchers take for granted the ability to use any known or published experimental tool to pursue their work. However, many widely used techniques and methods are proprietary to biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, the most notable example being the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). While licensing of academic technologies into industry is common, companies rarely enforce their proprietary rights upon the academic community or negotiate licenses for such technology with academic institutions.

DuPont Pharmaceuticals Inc. may have set an example recently with its negotiation of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NIH. Under the arrangement, NIH-funded scientists can