Patent or publish (or both)? 25 years of Mabs!

Mark Haynes Mark.Haynes at Mail.TJU.Edu
Mon Aug 7 17:30:49 EST 2000

Mike, where is the milstein paper exactly?
thanz in advance

Mike Clark wrote:

> In article <ew3j5.107078$7I1.1969116 at>, Donald Forsdyke
> <URL:mailto:forsdyke at> wrote:
> >
> > "Mike Clark" <mrc7 at> wrote in message
> > news:ant0318281cbPk=+ at
> > > A question of should academics be more interested in publication or
> > > patenting? Attitudes have changed over 25 years.
> >
> > Hello Mike,
> >
> >                    Thank you for posting the link to the letter. But,
> > what do you mean by a change in attitude, and how do you know that
> > attitudes have changed over 25 years?
> >
> >                    I suspect what you mean is that those researchers with
> > a primary interest in patenting have thrived and those with a primary
> > interest in publication have not thrived. With the Darwinian struggle
> > between researchers, and with the increasing erosion of academia by
> > industrial interests, those with a primary interest in publication may
> > have fallen by the way-side, but they (and the views they hold) are still
> > there.
> >
> > Sincerely,
> > Donald Forsdyke. Discussion Leader. Bionet.journals.note
> >
> The attitudes I was referring to are several. If you read Cesar Milstein's
> article in IT and also listen to the video of his talk at the MRC
> conference, you will see he makes several points. Firstly there was no
> simple mechanism at the time for scientists employed by the MRC to explore
> the idea of patenting their work. All patents filed by MRC employees were
> supposed to be filed through the the government agency known as NRDC,
> (National Research and Development Corporation). The letter I have released
> is from them but you will note that this response is over a year late.
> There is still a dispute between Cesar and the MRC/NRDC over what happened
> to the first letter and manuscript which the NRDC patents Department claim
> not to have ever received.
> However even a year later the NRDC seem not to have realised what the
> commercial possibilities might be, as can be clearly seen. Despite this
> lack of vision by the NRDC in the UK, the Wistar Institute in the USA did
> file patents, and the biotech startup Centecor was founded on the basis of
> antibody patents in the USA.
> When David Secher again approached the MRC/NRDC to patent a
> monoclonal antibody against IFN-gamma he was told that it wasn't to be
> done. He with Cesar's knowledge did file a patent and as a result was
> actually threatened with dismissal by the MRC. Later they had a change of
> mind when the patent was successfully handed over as part of the portfolio
> for the UK startup Celltech and David Secher was appointed as the first
> Industrial Liaison officer by the MRC.
> The point is that it is possible to publish and to patent providing that
> the mechanisms are in place and streamlined. Organisations such as Genetech
> have had a long history of publishing their best work. The attitude in the
> UK particularly as advised often by NRDC was to try to keep work secret for
> as long as possible i.e. delay publication, the example given by Cesar
> Milstein being the rat myeloma Y3/Ag1.2.3.
> It isn't helped by patent law in the UK and Europe which invalidates an
> application if there is evidence of prior disclosure. In the USA it is
> possible to file a patent up to a year after publication. Indeed
> you can use evidence from others subsequent published work to validate your
> own speculations in patent claims. Something needs to be done to level the
> international playing fields of patents, for example a grace period to
> allow some limited disclosure if ideas not to invalidate an application.
> Mike                           <URL:>
> --
>  o/ \\    //            ||  ,_ o   M.R. Clark, PhD. Division of Immunology
> <\__,\\  //   __o       || /  /\,  Cambridge University, Dept. Pathology
>  ">    ||   _`\<,_    //  \\ \> |  Tennis Court Rd., Cambridge CB2 1QP
>   `    ||  (_)/ (_)  //    \\ \_   Tel.+44 1223 333705  Fax.+44 1223 333875

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