Patenting of Inventions in the Field of Bioinformatics
Knowledge is one of the more important assets of a scientist. Knowledge is typically communicated through papers. However, once published it is available to the scientific community in general and no longer the sole property of the creator. Patenting inventions is a way in which scientists may continue to profit from knowledge obtained also after publication thereof.
This chapter intends to provide the reader with some guidance as to what is patentable in bioinformatics and what not. While there is much to be said about patenting inventions in general, this chapter particularly focuses on aspects of patenting that are relevant for inventions made in the field of bioinformatics. This chapter intends to give an overview of the possibilities for obtaining patent protection for both the tools and the results obtained through the use of these tools. General aspects on the patentability of inventions, and the requirements for novelty, inventive step and sufficiency of disclosure of the invention will be discussed first. Subsequently these issues will come back in the context of patenting of tools and results of bioinformatics. As knowledge about the competition is almost as important as one’s own inventions, a final section is devoted to Internet access of patent information.
National law ultimately governs patent law. As both authors have their base in Europe, much of the issues referred to in this chapter are influenced by the rules and regulations of the European Patent Office (EPO). This is of course a restriction of this chapter. However, since the principles used in patent law are harmonized between the major markets, many of the statements made herein have wider applicability. Where major differences exist between the system of the EPO and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) these have been indicated.
While some of you may already have extensive experience with patents, other readers may not. To appeal to both the novice and the expert we have laced general aspects with more detailed discussions on particular interesting or controversial points.
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