Last week at UCSF Mission Bay, the UC Board of Regents met to discuss methods of coping with budget cuts for the 2012-2013 school year and simultaneously entered into litigation against Disney, Wal-Mart and Facebook over alleged copyright infringement.
On the same day that Board Chair Sherri Lansing called a retreat to discuss budget solutions — like pooling revenue from Gov. Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative and implementing varied tuition costs — the board and UC patent licensee Eolas Technology filed a lawsuit alleging that Disney, Wal-Mart and Facebook infringed on four interactive technology patents issued to the UC. If Brown’s initiative, Proposition 30, passes, it will increase the university’s budget by $125 million and provide sufficient funding to forgo a midyear tuition hike of up to 20 percent; if it fails, the UC will face a cut of $375 million.
Eolas was founded in 1994 by UCSF researcher Michael Doyle to “return value to its shareholders by commercializing these technologies through strategic alliances, licensing and spin offs,” according to the company’s website. In 2007, the UC received $30.4 million from a patent litigation settlement between Eolas and Microsoft.
The meeting also brought some closure to last November’s UC Davis pepper-spraying incident as the board approved finalized financial settlements for 21 students and former students involved in the clash, though no further details will be released until the settlements are approved by the U.S. District Court.
Despite the board’s progress on the matter, UC spokesperson Lynn Tierney said the case has yet to be fully settled.
“As far as I know, they haven’t filed the papers yet for the pepper-spraying incident,” Tierney said.
Additionally, the board approved $71 million in funding for ongoing reconstruction and renovations to Davidson Library and named UCSB mathematics professor William Jacob as the campus’ new faculty representative to the Board of Regents.
According to Tierney, the meeting’s highlight was Wednesday’s retreat, which drew focus to resolutions such as varying tuition costs across the system’s 10 campuses, raising parking fees and restructuring health and welfare benefits for UC employees, among other proposals. Tierney said the primary purpose of the retreat was to focus the board’s attention on how to keep the system afloat if Proposition 30 should fail.
“They were asked to bring forth all kinds of solutions that could be enacted [if Proposition 30 was rejected],” Tierney said. “[The solutions] were just laid out on the table to make the regents aware of what the people had been looking at, at what UC Office of the President had been looking at and to look at what’s at stake.”
However, Tierney said Proposition 30’s failure would force the university to enact further tuition hikes even if other solutions are also implemented.
“None of what they put forth would make up enough money to avoid a fee increase,” Tierney said. “Nothing that they proposed would cover a scenario in which [Proposition 30 did not pass] and we wouldn’t have some sort of fee increase going forward.”