Professor Jacob Sherkow has published a new paper in Embo Reports titled "Preprint servers and patent prior art." A summary follows:
The use of preprint servers to rapidly disseminate research results has exploded since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But such disclosures may make obtaining patent protection on the results quite difficult. Preprint publications are often “prior art” that render later-filed patent applications either lacking in novelty or an inventive step both of which are primary requirements under the patent laws. Prior to their dispersion on the Internet, preprints were only considered primary art if they were “available to the public”, which was not always the case for preprints distributed in closely held conferences. Internet preprint servers, however, change that calculus, making any research results available to everyone, everywhere. This tension between Internet preprints and patents may have negative effects on the research enterprise, including encouraging researchers to manufacture a delay in putting their preprints online—a perverse effect of preprint servers’ openness and accessibility. Researchers should therefore be deliberate in their choices about placing preliminary research results on preprint servers and, in particular, should investigate whether patents are necessary to achieve their research’s commercial ends, if any.
Read the full paper at embopress.org.