I'm a regular reader of the Patent Docs blog written by patent attorneys Kevin Noonan and Donald Zuhn. In a series of blogs this week, there was a good discussion of an article from the recent issue of Genome Medicine. The thrust of the article was that patents were being allowed for genetic sequences that were so common in the whole genome, that the patent's broad claims could cover huge percentages of total genes (84%-100%). This was deemed to have a potentially chilling effect on future research being blocked by potential patent infringement by the paper's authors.
Key comments that came out of the discussion from Patent Docs authors were that non-lawyers are frequently misinterpreting patent claims, i.e. misunderstanding what is actually claimed. Also, commentators frequently give more credence than is due to a patent application versus an actual patent. The latter being enforceable while the former is not. On the other hand, Patent Doc authors conceed that some claims are written to broadly in the attempt to extend clients' rights as far a permissible. Unfortunately, many are so broad as to really run afoul of prior art and would never be allowed. So author's agree that better claim construction would also help the situation.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Apr 12th 2013