Never underestimate the importance of patenting

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

As the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end.  And so, with some sadness, I report that this will be the final Intellectual Matters. In my first column several years ago, I mentioned that one of my goals for writing a column in each issue of the Canadian Chemical News (ACCN)...

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Epidemics create quandries for drug companies

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

In the early 1980s, the world became aware of a viral disease that was causing a number of rare diseases among a variety of groups, including intravenous drug users, homosexual men and haemophiliacs. The condition, of course, was AIDS, caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  Shortly after the identification of the virus, scientists began...

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Drug pricing can create an ethical conundrum

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

In my previous column, I wrote that inventors are generally free to exploit their invention as a result of the state-granted monopoly that patents guarantee. In the field of medicine, however, many jurisdictions have laws or regulations that either limit the price for which the inventor can charge for the medicine or, in some cases,...

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Drug patents are vital but can be subject to abuse

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

As I have written in the past, a patent does not grant the right for an inventor to sell or make something. A common misconception is that once an inventor obtains a patent, he or she may exploit their invention. For example, if an inventor discovers a new and inventive use for an already patented...

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Cutting-edge discoveries outstrip patent laws

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

Next year marks an important anniversary in chemical history.  In 1916, Gilbert Lewis published his seminal paper on chemical bonding, “The Atom and the Molecule,” from which were born Lewis dot structures. The year 2016 then, marks the 100th anniversary of Lewis’s concept of the covalent bond model and electron pairs. Only 100 years ago,...

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Company trade secrets a high-stakes game

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

Espionage. Double agents. Betrayal. Theft. While I could be describing the latest James Bond film, these elements were all part of a trade secret lawsuit in the United States involving Dupont’s product Kevlar. As any polymer chemist knows, Kevlar is a para-aramid synthetic fibre having a tensile strength five times that of steel. It has...

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Trade secrets can protect better than patents

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

I  love sushi, especially when it comes with a large heap of wasabi. What, you may ask, does this have to do with chemistry? Well, not much actually, although I guess you could consider the green paste that we generally call “wasabi” a chemical composition. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized...

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I call the next chemistry professor to the stand

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

If I had to, I would estimate that more than 50 percent of all patent litigation in Canada involves chemical subject matter. That shouldn’t come as a shock; chemistry, after all, is the central science! In view of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers of the Canadian Chemical News have acted as expert...

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With patents, the devil is always in the details

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

While I am sure he gave many memorable speeches, Bill Clinton’s most famous statement as president may actually be the following: “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” This, of course, was Clinton’s response in 1998 when asked to elaborate upon former statements he had made about illicit sexual encounters with...

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Don’t make patent promises that you can’t keep

INTELLECTUAL MATTERS

Late in 2013, many Canadian news outlets blared a headline similar to the one reported on the CBC’s website, “Eli Lilly Files $500M NAFTA Suit Against Canada Over Drug Patents.” The Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant’s lawsuit against Canada followed two court rulings in which the Canadian patents protecting the drugs Straterra and Zyprexa were invalidated in...

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