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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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February 16, 2005

Dysfunctional Disclosure

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Posted by Derek

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?

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Patents and IP


1. The Novice Chemist on February 17, 2005 9:08 AM writes...

I know that this is an issue that I've raised before, but you would think that there is some kind of 'pharma intelligence service' that would perform passive and active intelligence for a fee. Of course, you (Derek) are a upstanding citizen, but I'm guessing that there's someone out there who would be willing to sling a little payola to find out what the real numbers behind those assays are.

Additionally, you would think that it might be worth it for someone to wander the halls of pharma conventions, pay for drinks and listen in on the cocktail chatter. I suppose that we (US businesses) are just not into industrial espionage, at least not openly.

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