Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"Discovery" already known?

Of relevance to patents relating to native plants outside the US (e.g., neem) is the headline Giant lizard discovered in the Philippines relating to the "discovery" of a large fruit-eating lizard on the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

The problem with this "discovery" is the locals already knew about the lizard, because they were eating the lizards because they tasted good.

The news story from AP stated:

"The discovery of such a large, charismatic, and strikingly distinct new species of vertebrate in the unexplored forests of the northern Philippines accentuates the degree to which the diversity of this global conservation hotspot is still poorly known," Mundita Lim, chief of the country's Department of Environment and Natural Resources Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, said in a statement.
Eric R. Pianka, a lizard expert at the University of Texas at Austin, said in an e-mail interview that it was an "incredible find."
"This is truly a spectacular discovery," Pianka said. "Worldwide, there are about 60-plus species of monitor lizards. In all probability, some as yet undescribed species will be found on various islands in Indonesia," he said.

The issue is in the following paragraph:

The 6.5-foot (2-meter) -long lizard was first [sic] spotted in 2004 in the Sierra Madre mountains on the main island of Luzon when local researchers saw local Agta tribesmen carrying one of the dead reptiles.

In the patent world, re-discovering what people outside the US already knew does not count as an "invention."

IPBiz separately recalls the news buzz surrounding a report in a science journal that cockatoos could follow a music beat.
Any owner of a cockatoo was familiar with this characteristic long before it was published as a discovery.


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