Patents, Promises, and Reproducibility
24 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2017 Last revised: 12 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 5, 2018
Cutting-edge scientific research faces a global reproducibility crisis: scientists often cannot faithfully reproduce their colleagues’ experiments. Several domestic patent law doctrines would appear to mitigate this problem, including the enablement doctrine in the United States, the promise doctrine in Canada and the Commonwealth of Nations, and Europe’s industrial application doctrine. But these doctrines’ disconnect from scientific practice and their broader international harmonization make them weak tools to combat irreproducibility. Given the increase of cross-border scientific collaboration and uncertainty surrounding certain types of new technologies, these doctrines seem to exacerbate the reproducibility crisis. Making these doctrines fulfill their promises to encourage reproducible, technical disclosures will likely require effort from a variety of domestic institutions, including domestic patent offices, courts, legislatures, and universities.
Keywords: patent, science, reproducibility, enablement, promise doctrine, industrial application, intellectual property, Canada, Europe
JEL Classification: K11, K19, K39, O34, K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation