UH files Terminal Disclaimer on taro patents

Action dissolves university proprietary or ownership interests

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Gary K. Ostrander, (808) 956-7837
UH Manoa Vice Chancellor for Research
Posted: Jun 20, 2006

The University of Hawaiʻi has reached an agreement with representatives of the Native Hawaiian community that resolves issues surrounding patents on improvements to some varieties of taro created by UH research work.

Under terms of the agreement, the university has filed Terminal Disclaimers with the U.S. Patent Office that in effect dissolve all university proprietary or ownership interests of any kind in the three taro varieties under discussion.

"We are pleased that this issue has come to a resolution," said Manoa Vice Chancellor for Research Gary K. Ostrander. "he university has acted sincerely and in good faith to respect the rights of Native Hawaiians in this matter. We believe that our actions can be the foundation of a relationship based on mutual trust as we move forward on other issues we may face in the future."

In a statement this morning, Ostrander explained what filing Terminal Disclaimers on the patents means in the Western system:

The Disclaimers were filed on Friday, June 16, 2006. As of that date, neither the university nor anyone else "owns" an interest in the three taro varieties.

* Anyone may now plant them, propagate them, sell or transfer the corms or the complete plants (the huli) to anyone else, and use the varieties to breed new cultivars as if the patents had never existed.

* Existing licensees no longer owe the university any royalties on sales of the taro varieties and may hereafter sell both the corms and huli to anyone else without any accounting to UH at all.

* The UH Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development (OTTED) will contact existing licensees to inform them of these developments and the termination of their obligations to the university.