Special leave application in UWA v Gray

An update from an earlier post: an appeal from the decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court in University of Western Australia v Gray may be heard by the High Court, after the University of Western Australia applied for special leave to appeal.

The defendant, Dr Bruce Gray, was an employee of UWA. He developed technology around the use of ‘microspheres’ as a treatment for cancer. Dr Gray later assigned IP associated with that technology to the company Sirtex, in exchange for Sirtex shares. UWA applied to the Federal Court for relief on the basis that the microsphere-related IP belonged to UWA. It asserted that there were fiduciary duties and implied contractual duties owed by Dr Gray to UWA, that meant UWA owned IP generated by Dr Gray in the course of his employment. French J (as he then was) found that the IP was owned by Dr Gray, and this decision was recently affirmed by the Full Federal Court.

On its decision to seek special leave to appeal, University of Western Australia Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Robson, said in a statement, “research and innovation undertaken within universities, by their very nature, build on the work of those who have gone before. We must ensure that this research – which will almost always be done for the benefit of the broader community – is recognised as university IP.”

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