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February 16, 2005
I spent the last part of the day wrestling with a competitor's patent application, trying to decode the darn thing, so I won't be sitting here looking at this monitor for very long tonight. There's a "best mode" requirement in patent law, where you're supposed to disclose the best way you know of to realize your invention, but there's no requirement that you have to make it easy to find. Plenty of drug companies bury their gems in truckloads of patent gravel.
I have to say, after looking through a lot of recent applications, that I think that the amount of disclosure needed to show utility should be increased. You see patents claiming structures of (this kind, insert vague generic structure that claims things out to Neptune), as inhibitors of (reverse whateverase, ya-ya kinase, etc.) for the treatment of what ails you. Fine by me. But shouldn't you have to put in some real numbers from your "reverse whateverase" assay (or, uh, whatever?)
Some people do, and good for them. And many other companies get around disclosing too much by assigning little plus-mark symbols for levels of activity, and then giving a table of compounds with one, two, or three plus marks next to each compound. That's just very slightly better than nothing, but it's an open book compared to the bozos who spend the last twenty pages of their applications describing, in horrible detail, every step of every assay they can think of - and then mention, offhandedly, that the compounds of this invention were tested in these assays and were found to be, you know, active and stuff. Should the patent offices of the world really let people get away with that one?
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