Patent goon squad

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Revision as of 07:39, 28 May 2007 by Jason R. Kelly (talk | contribs) (Open Questions)
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The general idea would be for scientists (who might be so inclined) to actively keep an eye on new patent applications in their fields of interest in order to push back on overly-broad patents. I think there would be an interest in this sort of thing for synthetic biology at a minimum, but the feasibility is an open question :)

Discuss here

Contentious Patent Applications

It might be an idea to post important patents and allow people to add prior art that they might know about.

Does anybody have suggestions for categories for synthetic biology patents? The patents that are posted now seem to fit into 'devices' and 'assembly'. If we could organize the patents into particular technology categories, we could then create an internal hierarchy of patents based on the breadth of the claims.

Parts library and assembly

Molecular Computing Elements, Gates and Flip-Flops

Genetic circuit inverting amplifier

Prior Art (pre June 5,2003)

Weiss & Knight 1999 - see fig 1, a biological inverter based on gene expression.

Open Questions

Please add/edit -- or answer!

  • How hard is it to filter patents via existing search tools (e.g. into sub-fields)?
  • What is the number of 'biology' patent applications submitted each day?
  • Can you get access to the applications early enough in the process to effect the outcome?
  • Is it better to go after existing patents (life the EFF patent busting project) or patent applications?
    • Response from EFF lawyer:
It's very hard to attack patent applications because there
is no formal opposition process and they often change during the
prosecution process so as to be a bit of a moving target.  Also,
we've chosen to go after patents that are actively being used to
attack; when they are at the application stage, it is harder to
predict which ones will be the worst and worth going after.  Good
luck in your effects, though.
  • Others?



  • Hanna Breetz, Technology and Policy Program at MIT
  • Jason Kelly, BE at MIT