Everything is made of atoms, and how you put them together is the business of Chemistry. Novel chemical products, as well as the routes to synthesising them, are often the subject of patents. Drugs, catalysts, enzymes, new polymers, novel carbon allotropes, all of these can potentially attain protection. Where the exciting aspects of a new product arises from its chemical structure and interactions, chemical knowledge should be called on in patent drafting; where the profit is more found in its material properties, materials science expertise may need to be called on to properly capture the truly distinctive features of an inventive chemical product. In practice, because of how the microscopic chemical properties of a substance give rise to macroscopic material properties, knowledge in both areas will be needed to properly capture a product’s patentable properties.
Chemical processes also provide the basis for a great many inventions. Improved processes for synthesising or purifying a desired material are always desirable, and the range of products which utilise a chemical process to function is vast, spanning from batteries to cleaning products. In an increasingly environmentally-conscious world, methods of safely disposing of waste also often incorporate chemical processes. Intellectual property is particularly important in the field of pharmaceuticals, with the tensions between rights holders and manufacturers of generics reflecting both the great rewards that arise from new discoveries and the immense expense involved in making them.
Inventive activity is not only limited to the lab; any chemical engineer will tell you that a process which may work perfectly on a lab bench may require substantial additional work if you want it to function on an industrial scale. In Chemistry, size does matter. Even if the chemical basis of a process is well-known and not patentable in its own right, discovering a new way to implement it, or a major improvement to an existing industrial process, can yield patentable concepts. Overcoming the problems of moving from laboratory proof of concept to commercially viable product ensures that chemical engineering is just as inventive an activity as more research-oriented chemistry.
In recent decades biological and biochemical inventions have advanced extensively, from enzymes in washing powder to bespoke genetically engineered organisms. Ethical considerations impose restrictions on what type of inventions in this area can have patent protection, particularly in the medical field. Professional drafting can avoid most of these pitfalls.
Increasingly, medical innovations involve not merely Chemistry but also the use of computer-implemented methods for drug discovery and enzyme analysis, and for the bespoke design of “tailored” therapies. Smart IP strategies aim to patent both the methods and techniques involved in developing these therapies and the outcomes themselves.
Phillips & Leigh’s roster of attorneys possess a strong professional and academic background in a range of chemical and biochemical-related fields. Jim Boff brings to the table not only academic qualifications in chemistry but also three decades of experience in the field. Additional breadth of technical knowhow is brought to the table by Dr. Arthur Boff, whose research background takes in atmospheric chemistry, electrochemistry, analytical chemistry, quantum chemistry, and novel semiconductor technologies.
Below are some of the many examples of Chemistry and biochemistry-related concepts that have been handled by Phillips & Leigh:
Ceramics and Glasses – Refractory Fibre Chemistry, Sol-Gel and Melt Fiberisation Processes, Biosolubility, Surface Modified Ceramics
Chemical Engineering – Large-scale Gasification and Gas Conditioning Systems, Brewing and Distillation Processes, Designer Organisms for the Production of Fuels, Manufacture of Thermally Sensitive Compounds
Electrochemistry – Fuel Cells, Electrode Materials, Battery Chemistry, Microbial Fuel Cells, Colloidal Flocculation Processes
Magnetic and Electric Materials – Dielectric Materials, Semiconductors & Superconductors, Piezoelectric & Photovoltaic Materials, Anisotropic Magnetic Materials
Pharmaceuticals – Controlled Release Formulations, Photodynamic Therapies, Dosage Regimes, Computer-Implemented Drug Discovery
Polymers – Electroluminescent Polymers [e.g. OLEDs], Biomaterials, Biodegradable Plastics, Genetically Modified Organisms for Producing Polymers
Nanotechnology – Graphene and other Novel and Unusual Carbon Species, Quantum Dots, Material Characterisation, Catalysts
If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys regarding anything detailed above, we welcome all and any enquiries.