Saturday, November 11, 2006

Line between science and public relations getting blurrier?

Of the article published in Science about running out of seafood by 2048, Amy Ridenour wrote:

The line between science and PR gets blurrier all the time.

She further observed of the scary projection published in Science:

Reminds me of global warming activist Stephen Schneider's semi-famous quote: "We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

Ray Hilborn called the Science article "mind boggling stupid."

Separately, IPBiz had discussed the so-called "news of the week" story in the July 28, 2006 issue of Science, which contained neither news nor an accurate reporting of facts. It was a public relations piece on behalf of the USPTO to move along the proposal to restrict continuing application practice. Although Science talked about a "loophole" by which patent applicants could add new detail and still obtain a prior filing date, no such "loophole" exists. The article suggested nearly a third of all patent applications took advantage of the "loophole," but the article failed to note that this number included divisionals and RCEs which have nothing to do with adding new detail of any kind.

The error of the July 28 article was discussed in 88 JPTOS 743. A previous article in JPTOS discussed some aspects of Science's publishing of the fraudulent work by Hwang Woo Suk (88 JPTOS 239).

Also, recall what Merges and Nelson wrote in the patent context: The real problem is not controlling overfishing, but preventing underfishing after exclusive rights have been granted. The only way to find out what works and what does not is to let a variety of minds try. If a property right on a basic invention covers a host of potential improvements, the property right holder can be expected to develop the basic invention and some of the improvements.


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