Vote No On Prop. 102



I have just received a report from the Goldwater Institute that has changed my opinion on Proposition 102. If you study Prop. 102, which would change the state constitution to permit Arizona's universities to take equity in corporations in exchange for patents or other intellectual property, closely, I think you will see it is unnecessary.

Arizona universities can already sell patents or other intellectual property, and license it on any terms they see fit. As a result, in 2003, Arizona universities signed 124 licensing-related agreements. Thus, it seems that universities don't need Prop. 102 to get their technology on the market.

If universities aren't receiving adequate compensation from licensing, maybe it's because they aren't good at business. If this is the case, then these same negotiators shouldn't be turned loose to take a piece of the action. They might really get involved in something expensive, as Columbia University did with the Biosphere 2 project.

Furthermore, the Goldwater Institute study shows that all the big money from research has gone to universities that have licensed their patents: Michigan State University's two cancer-related patents; the University of Florida's sports drink, Gatorade; Iowa State University's fax algorithm; and Stanford University's recombinant DNA gene-splicing patent.

Of all the universities, which have taken equity, in the country the total revenue in 2001 was $100 million; whereas, the University of Wisconsin alone took in $30 million from licensing, and Wisconsin, you will note, did not have one of the big money-making patents.

The point is that a university doesn't need to take equity to make big money. In fact, no university is making big money from equity positions derived from patents. Plus, in a state where public officials have devised, and promoted, such money losers as: Arizona Narrow Gauge Railroad; AzScam; public financing of sport utility vehicles that could operate on liquefied petroleum gas; tax-financed and under-used sport facilities; and light rail. Say nothing of banks that fail every 20 years, and the Baptist Foundation, it is wise to keep such people out of high finance.

I recommend a vote against Prop. 102.

Dan Adams


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