Girish Pattanashetti

Invention relates

to converting seawater and

hard water into

potable water

DHARWAD: Karnatak University here seems to have received a raw deal over a U.S. patent for an invention, “Ion exchange membrane”, by one of its faculty members.

What is of significance is that it has been ranked No. 1 among 700 patents on inventions by WikiPatents Community, which contributes to the U.S. patent system by reviewing issued patents and pending patent applications. The invention relates to converting seawater and hard water into potable water and a patent has been registered in the U.S. in the names of Tejraj Aminabhavi, Padmakar V. Kulkarni, and Mahadevappa Y. Karidurganavar.

On November 11, 2004, the invention was awarded the United States Patent (No. 6814865). But there was no reference to the university in the patent documents despite Dr. Amminbhavi and Dr. Kariduraganavar being faculty members of the Chemistry Department. While Dr. Amminbhavi’s address was given as Austin, Texas, U.S., and that of P.V. Kulkarni as Dallas in U.S., Dr. Kariduraganavar’s address was given as Pawate Nagar, India, sources said. Dr. Kariduraganavar was the first to bring to the notice of the varsity in April, 2005, about this. The happiness was short-lived as it was revealed that the patent had been “assigned” to a private company, “Seventy Seventh Meridian Corporation, Dallas (U.S.)”, the sources said. It became clear that though Dr. Kariduraganavar was the principal inventor, he had taken the help of Dr. Aminabhavi to apply for the U.S. patent, who in turn had taken the help of P.V. Kulkarni of Dallas (U.S.) and consequently the names of Dr. Aminabhavi and Mr. Kulkarni were included in the application. It also became clear that the patent had been sold to a private company.

Dr. Kariduraganavar had stated that trusting Dr. Aminabhavi he had only handed over some signed documents. The then Vice-Chancellor constituted a one-man fact-finding committee. Later, two experts were made members.

The sources said though the committee submitted its report, the university did not act. On April 27, 2007, the university appointed A.A. Hulageri, former judge, as an inquiry officer.. He submitted his findings on October 22, 2007. They said based on the findings, the Syndicate resolved to impose a fine of $ 10,000 on Dr. Aminabhavi, and withhold five increments of Dr. Aminabhavi and Dr. M. Kariduraganavar.