09/08/10 SPUDSPY CASE SpudSpy Case Questions 1. Why are Henderson and Huang so upset? Should they be? Anderson and Huang were upset because Thad Simcoe and Avi Rothman intentionally wanted to claim the technology as the inventors. In their meeting with Catherine Huang they did not tell her that they were working on a business plan to bring the remote soil pH sensing approach to commercialization. In their discussion with Catherine’s colleagues they posed as the invertors. They even went as far as talking to their attorney friend about carving out a specific application of SpudSpy from the original patent belonging to Catherine and Anderson. This goes to tell that either, Thad and his partner didn’t know how unethical their intentions were or they were blinded by over ambition. Yes Anderson and Catherine should be upset because this is a technology that they put in time and effort to invent, and someone else is trying to come in and sideline them. 2. Can this project be salvaged? I believe major damage has not been done, the students almost crossed the line but fortunately for them they were brought to caution. The project can be salvaged if Anderson and Catherine agree to work with the students and see how to commercialize the technology. The students, fortunately, have passion for the idea, so they have the charisma and spirit to make it happen. Because let’s face the facts Catherine has not been able to move forward with this idea, she needs a team. I believe she would make a great team with Thad and Avi. 3. What is your assessment of Cohen’s role so far? What would you recommend to Cohen for his next steps? What are his options? Cohen is doing a great job with his entrepreneurial class. His method of teaching the class is motivating. The students strive to produce a business plan that would actually convince a venture capitalist to part with his money. It not only exposes the students but also opens doors of opportunities for them. In regards to the situation, Cohen should arrange a meet between Anderson, Catherine, Thad and Avi. Try and settle the case amicably, convince Catherine and Anderson to work with the Students, pointing out the fact that the project has generated broad interest and possibility of new funding for the engineering school if it turns out to be a success. . What can we do to avoid these problems in our class projects? To avoid this sort of thing happening again, first all business school students should read about this case and the follow up. During these kinds of projects students should check with their instructor before and after any correspondence they have with the inventors, parties of interest and other stakeholders. This way the instructor would know if and when they doing anything that is unethical or against regulations and pull them back.
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