Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sticklen's US app rejected by BPAI on April 8

Thanks to an IPBiz reader for the headsup on today's (April 8, 2010) BPAI decision in Ex parte MASOMEH B. STICKLEN, BRUCE E. DALE, and SHAHINA B. MAQBOOL wherein the Board affirmed the examiner's rejection of claims in Sticklen's US Application 11/353,390.

Sticklen's 2008 paper in Nature Reviews Genetics was recently retracted over plagiarism issues.

See Plagiarism retracts review at The Scientist. One notes there is divergence of opinion on "how bad" Sticklen's action was. IPBiz has a problem with taking something obtained under confidence as a journal referee and transplanting it to a journal article in the name of the referee. But others have pointed to the high standing of Sticklen in the field, and have defended her, much as many people defended SIU president Glenn Poshard. The comment thread to the post at The Scientist has many comments supporting Sticklen. Some of them note that the pertinent paragraph in the copied paper was merely a collection of references to papers in the literature. Sticklen merely paraphrased material that comprised known information from the literature. These commenters suggest there was no scientific novelty in the text that was copied.

All of this may be true, or it might not be true. However, an issue is taking something that was confidential and using it. A more egregious referee case involved Chu's submission on oxide superconductors to Physical Review Letters. Therein, Chu had an expectation that his submission, which involved novel science, would be pirated by the refereees at PRL, and thus changed one key element, replacing [the correct] "yttrium" by --ytterbium-- in the manuscript initially submitted to PRL. Chu corrected the change at the end of the process but prior to actual publication there was buzz about ytterbium, as his confidential information was leaked. The Chu incident was more than 20 years before the Sticklen incident. [In passing, as to copyright infringement in the area of phone books and maps, the creators would include a false phone listing or a false location, within their creation, to aid in snagging copyists. If the false information were found in the copied version, it would be evidence against independent creation. This is related to what Chu did, although it is curiously inverted in the Sticklen case.]

LBE himself in a review article in Annual Review of Materials Science had described conductivity enhancement in graphite intercalation compounds in a rather unusual way. A few years later, this description was copied verbatim, without attribution, in the more prestigious Quarterly Reviews. This was not an issue of patentability, but it was an issue of plagiarism.

**As background, the "plagiarized" paper

Plant cell wall reconstruction toward improved lignocellulosic production and processability


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