Judge Sets Date for Proposition 71 Trial; ICOC Adopts Interim Intellectual Property Policy
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw at a hearing on Tuesday set a trial date of Feb. 27 to hear arguments as to whether Proposition 71 violates the state Constitution, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. State voters approved Proposition 71 in November 2004 to fund stem cell research.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including People's Advocate, the National Tax Limitation Committee and the California Family Bioethics Council, say the measure is illegal because it operates outside "the exclusive management and control of the state." The groups also allege that California voters were misled about financial terms related to the proposition.
Attorneys for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Tuesday said they wanted to limit the trial's discovery phase, arguing that the constitutionality of Proposition 71 can be decided mainly by the law itself.
Plaintiff attorney Dana Cody of the Life Legal Defense Foundation said the group will appeal the case if the judge rules in favor of the state and will go "to the Supreme Court if we have to" (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/7).
Also on Tuesday, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee approved an interim policy governing the intellectual property rights that will allow scientists to retain ownership of discoveries made using Proposition 71 funds, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The interim policy states that all discoveries made using taxpayer-funded research should be shared as widely as possible and that not-for-profit institutions worldwide will not have to pay to use those discoveries in their own research. The policy also says the state should receive a portion of money paid by companies to license a patent resulting from discoveries funded from Proposition 71.
ICOC officials will decide where that money will be invested during the coming months before a final policy is adopted, the Union-Tribune reports.
Consumer and taxpayer advocates and some lawmakers have lobbied ICOC to include provisions in the policy that would return some profits from stem cell discoveries to taxpayers, or establish a program that would make stem cell therapies available to California residents who cannot afford such treatments (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/7).