I don't think that your statement of a generality applies to the specific, Bruce. The modifier "if you want to patent the changes" must not be discounted. So if you write a research paper on how you can tweak their architecture to produce some feature, you can simply elect not to patent it. If somebody else tries to patent the same thing, even the company in question, your research is prior art that anybody can use to strike the patent down.
As an academic who has done patentable research, I can tell you that universities are keenly interested in building their IP portfolios. And any informed patent holder knows that any violation must be prosecuted, or the validity of the patent evaporates. End result: taxpayers getting sued for violating patents generated 100% within universities with public funding. No company need get involved.
I don't know what century you live in... but universities operate like large corporations these days. They mistreat and underpay their workers as much as the law allows, they build massive IP portfolios, they pay their executives millions of dollars... I could go on.