Improved Patent Information Disclosure and Access for Incremental Innovation
Chapter 4: The inadequacy of the disclosure requirement
The obligation to disclose patent information is central to the hypothesis of this book in so far as it is the foundation of a right to access and utilise patent information. Because science progresses by building up and designing around the disclosed knowledge, researchers will not be in a position to undertake cumulative research and incremental innovation, if the disclosure of patent information is inadequate. This chapter therefore argues that although article 29 of TRIPS requires the patentee to make a clear and complete disclosure, in practice researchers and users of patent information may suffer a disadvantage because of the narrowness of the disclosure requirement and the lack of precision in drafting patent specifications. The concept of disclosure has been subject to several discussions, ranging from those advocating that inventors should be allowed natural rights in their inventions, to those articulating the idea that the patent system is based on a ‘social contract’, by which society encourages the inventor to publicise his work for use by others, in exchange for the exclusive right. The idea that an inventor should be allowed a natural right in his property has been highlighted by several thinkers. One philosopher, in particular, whose name has been linked to the natural right of property, is John Locke. His view on property theory consists of demonstrating the coherence or the truth of an argument that relies on natural rights to justify IPRs.
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