Thursday, May 20, 2010

History revisited, or history revised?

from Nanowerk post, titled: From beams to buckyballs - setting the stage for the nanotechnology revolution-->

Curl said Smalley initially showed little interest in pursuing the experiment, but Curl thought Kroto's ideas had merit. "My argument was that the experiment might actually lead to a test of a proposal of the origin of the diffuse interstellar bands," he said. "Rick could see the advantage of trying to find the solution to a 50-year-old mystery."
But something else caught their attention. The experiments in late 1985 showed an abundance of carbon 60, which set the scientists racing to figure out what such a molecule would look like. "We had this problem that this (carbon cluster) was a little strong, and it looked like there was something there," Curl said, noting that the team pursued the interstellar question no further. "The discovery of the fullerenes drew all our attention."
Smalley was the first to find the solution by assembling a paper model of hexagons and pentagons that turned out to be identical to a soccer ball. (In a webcast available here, Curl described how the team came up with the key to the solution over enchiladas at a Houston diner.)
Within days, Nature received their paper announcing the discovery of the buckminsterfullerene, which they described as a "truncated icosahedron." The scientists noted they were "disturbed at the number of letters and syllables in the rather fanciful but highly appropriate name. … A number of alternatives come to mind (for example, ballene, spherene, soccerene, carbosoccer), but we prefer to let this issue of nomenclature be settled by consensus." It became popularly known as the buckyball.

Problems here:

C60 first reported in J. Chem. Phys. by Exxon group.
Smalley paper came later, in J. Am. Chem. Soc., not Nature.

See, for example, LBE, Written Description: Circumscribing Possession to Prevent Overreaching , in Intellectual Property Today -->

In patent law, and in some areas of science, the concept of written description serves to establish, or deny, priority. n7 The area of buckyballs gives a simple example. Although the Exxon workers absolutely, positively made C60 in 1984, and published thereon (J. Chem. Phys., 1984, 81, 3322), there was no hint that they considered C60 to be a truncated icosahedron, or buckyball for short. The buckyball proposal in 1985, based on a previously disclosed synthesis, led to a Nobel Prize.

Elsewhere in IPT-->

To illustrate one issue in the interpretation of Continental Can,
consider the discovery of buckyballs. In 1984, workers at Exxon disclosed the
existence of C60, with the formula as determined by mass spectrometric
measurement n6 and a way to make said C60. (J. Chem. Phys., 1984, 81, 3322). They did not disclose the correct structure of C60; Professors Smalley and Kroto
proposed the structure of C60 to be that of a truncated icosahedron in 1985. This
was not known to be correct until after the work of Huffman and Kratschmer in
1990. Now, assuming that the synthesis of Exxon always led to C60 with the
icosahedral structure, would a patent claim to C60 in 1990 (with the truncated
icosahedral structure) be inherently anticipated by the Exxon work in 1984, even
though no one knew the structure in 1984, and in fact could not have proved the
structure until 1990? Assuming that one of ordinary skill would recognize the
inherent property, albeit at a later date, one might think there would be
inherent anticipation. (Of course, a 1990 claim to merely C60 would be
explicitly anticipated by the written description and enablement of the 1984
reference.) IPBiz notes that, in this hypo, the public was not obtaining any "benefit" from buckyballs prior to 1990 (benefit post 1990 is not clear either), but IPBiz reiterates the inherent anticipation conclusion, in spite of Burk/Lemley.

**Separately, see Silence in a reference can sometimes be anticipation including discussion of
Upsher-Smith Labs., Inc. v. Pamlab, 412 F.3d 1319, 1322 (Fed.Cir.2005) and
n re Baxter Travenol Labs, 952 F.2d 388 (Fed. Cir.1991).


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