Re: A school owns patents?
Schools like CMU are supposed to encourage innovation, not crush it.
Two points here.
As already mentioned, Uni's, especially in the Engineering depts, do a lot of research. They do encourage innovation and pushing of boundaries. They will then get patents on these, and use the royalties (which are normally available for anyone to license, unlike those held by many companies) to invest back in to the school. Without these, students (or the govt on their behalf) would be expected to pay a hell of a lot more than they already do.
Also, patents do encourage innovation where used properly. They allow the inventor of something innovative to claw back something for all their hard work inventing it, by granting a temporary monopoly and stopping others ripping off their work. They also require publication of details, meaning future efforts can more easily piggy-back this work, as long as they gain the permission of the patent holder.
Where things fall down is in the current implementation and use of patents. We have the trolls, who buy patents and then hoard them, waiting for the best moment to strike with a case against an infringement. We have companies who use broad and generalised patents to stop competitors. And we have broken patent offices which allow this to happen.
Overall, I would say that patents to more good than harm, but we hardly ever hear about the good cases. In this case, it seems CMU are in the right. CMU did a lot of research, and would have licensed the patents to Marvel had they negotiated. Marvel violated the patent (according to the court) and made no effort to negotiate reasonable royalties. The court had to decide on a level, and awarded punitive damages too.