I am a fifth year PhD student who has independently developed a project for my thesis. Recently, I have presented some promising preliminary results. My professor called it a 'gold mine', and wants to start a company based on it. I prefer to publish it and make most of the data open source.
Today, my advisor hired a senior research scientist who intends to learn my work and start a company based on it. Apparently, they have been talking to each other for several months without my knowledge. The scientist intends on becoming CEO of this company and eventually wants equal inventorship, despite not having any experience in this field yet. My PI has made it clear that it is my responsibility to transfer the ideas and technologies that I have developed over to him before the end of my PhD.
I have argued with him that this work is not ready for a company, and such a start-up would rest on shaky foundations (I have not published or patented, or finished animal studies).
I also feel that he is holding my PhD degree ransom, as he has done more than once with other students in the past. He has a pattern of doing this with other students- hiring a 'CEO-type' senior research scientist to learn from a younger PhD student, working with the research scientist to start a company while the PhD student does most of the work, not allowing the PhD student to graduate until the company is off its feet, and then making millions selling the company, with minimal benefit or recognition to the student.
How should I approach this? Is there legal recourse and should I approach a third party? I have already discussed this many times with my PI, but he will not listen. I fear that my graduation will be delayed, andI would like to avoid burning any bridges.