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March 3, 2009
How Good (or Bad?) Are Patent Procedures, Anyway?
All the comments on the Lundbeck / Dr. Reddy's imbroglio got me to thinking: how good are patent procedures, anyway? I said in that earlier post that I didn't think that they were that much different from procedures in the open literature, but I'd like to throw the issue open for comment.
You might think that patent procedures would be better, actually. There are potential legal implications to bad patent writeups that don't apply to lousy procedures published in a journal. You're supposed to teach how to make the new chemical matter (or how to do the new process) that you're claiming, and if your patent's details really are insufficient to fulfill that requirement, you have a problem. Patents have been invalidated over such disputes. If you thought your invention worth the trouble of patenting, you'd presumably be motivated to provide sufficient detail to make sure the patent is granted, and that it holds up if challenged.
That said, not all that many patents get seriously challenged over such issues. It takes lot of time and a lot of money, and the number of cases where it's worth the trouble are limited. And a patent has to be pretty lousy (or pretty deceptive) to truly fail to teach what its procedures outline. I guess what I'm asking about is the wide middle ground - the various procedures that aren't necessarily make-or-break for the validity of the patent, but are in there as parts of synthetic schemes. What's your success rate following these? And is it better or worse than your success rate trying to reproduce things out of, say, The Journal of Organic Chemistry?
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