Writing chemistry patents and intellectual property
Francis Waller
2011 | 256pp | £53.50 (HB)
ISBN 9780470497401
Reviewed by Jonathan Wills

Any chemist who has struggled to read through and decipher a patent might worry that this book, which is presented as a guide to writing patents, will also be a struggle. Pleasingly this is not the case. The author, who confesses not to be a patent attorney, makes a good effort to keep the text readable and clear of legalese wherever possible. 

The title of the book is slightly misleading and in actual fact it is more than about just writing patents. Indeed, the book provides an introduction to patents, providing a commercial background to their usefulness and discusses the steps that need to be taken to obtain one. To chemists who wish to know more about this topic, this book provides a useful and informative starting point. There are also some useful comments on other intellectual properties such as trademarks and copyright. Trade secrecy, an alternative to patents, is also highlighted. 

Key patentability requirements, such as novelty and inventiveness, are usefully explained and the author has provided a number of real life examples to demonstrate how these requirements are assessed during the patent application procedure. It is helpful that the author takes the reader through a number of chemistry patents (which are included in the book) and provides an analysis and explanation on the pertinent sections of each. 

This text suffers in that many sections refer to US patent law and the US patent application procedure. This is a shame. The book is written for chemists wanting to know about the basic principles underlying patent law. These basic principles are presented at a level of generality that does not necessarily require frequent references to the US statute. The general readership of this book might have been expanded if these sections were revised. 

Patent law and patent application procedures are notoriously complex. With this book, the author has made a good attempt to present this information in an unfussy way and with an obvious relevance to a working chemist.