CHM 4060: Use of the Chemical LiteratureAssignment 13 (100 points)
So far, in our discussions about the chemical literature, we’ve focused on publications such as in
places like journals. These are common places where scientists (among others) disseminate their
research efforts, especially those scientists who are based in an academic setting (such as at
universities). These publications are considered valuable because they are “peer reviewed,”
meaning that other scientists in the same discipline review the manuscripts that are submitted and
decide whether they rise to the level of scientific rigor and proof to warrant publication. It is this
level of review that lends credibility to the research. Since most scientific conferences do not
have peer review prior to the presentation of work at those conferences, most scientific
disciplines do not recognize things like conference proceedings or abstracts from conferences as
being of comparable value.
In many sciences such as chemistry, considerable research is conducted in settings other than
university laboratories. Since many of these settings are not at non-profit organizations, where
the primary goal of the research is to generate novel intellectual property (IP), we must also
consider how to search for and use the patent literature.
A full discussion of the patent literature is far beyond the scope of this class. This is because
patents can be applied for in different countries, and there is a difference between actual issued
patents and patent applications. For the purposes of using them for chemistry information, both
have value. Therefore, we’ll cover how to find both.
Searching for any document/reference on either SciFinder or Reaxys, you can filter your results
by “Document Type” such that you can choose “Patent.” It doesn’t matter what you’re searching
for (a topic, a chemical or an author), you can do this. To give an example, if I search for David
MacMillan on Reaxys, I get a results page that looks like this:
By selecting the Document Type of “patent,” I can limit the results to just what Reaxys considers
patents, which looks like this:
Now comes the trickier part – which of these are issued patents, and which are merely patent
applications? And why is it important to distinguish between the two?
Let’s answer the first question. Simply put, patent applications have the year in which they were
submitted as part of their name. So, in the example above, WO2016/196931 and US2015/335657
are patent applications. The initials in front of those numbers stand for the country (in the case of
US, that’s the United States) or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO, which is a
branch of the United Nations), which allows the inventors to simultaneously file the same
application with other countries that are parties to the WIPO. Using the DECARBOXYLATIVE
CONJUGATE ADDITIONS… patent application, if we click on “Full Text” on Reaxys, it takes
us to a page that looks like this:
and, if you click on the hyperlink entitled Espacenet, it will take you to the Espacenet website,
showing you information about this patent application:
When you click on the “Original document” link, it will take you to the actual document, which
you can freely download by clicking the download button.
If you have the patent information, you can also use Espacenet directly without going through
Reaxys or SciFinder. By clicking on the Search function on the Espacenet website, you can enter
the same patent application number (but remove the slash), and it will take you directly to the
patent application you’re looking for.
Issued patents do not have the year associated with them. Instead, they are simply organized in
numerical order. In other words, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued
patent number 11,136,349 to Princeton University, with David MacMillan as one of the
inventors. This patent can be freely seen on the USPTO’s web page, but it’s not able to be seen
in a useful manner. What’s more, clicking on the “Full Text” link doesn’t take you to anywhere
you can find the patent. However, sites such as FreePatentsOnline will let you search for the
patent by entering the number (don’t use the commas). That will take you to a results page where
one of the options is to download the pdf version of the patent.
It should also be noted that these sources work for more than just US patents, and depending on
what you are looking for, you could legitimately find patent applications or even issued patents
in other languages. For example, here is a recent patent that shows the synthesis of remdesivir:
So now you have all of the tools necessary to find both patents and patent applications. The
answer to the second question about why it’s important to distinguish between the two is a bit
more complicated. One real distinction is a legal one – only an issued patent has any legal
standing. But more importantly, an issued patent has been reviewed by a patent examiner, and
thus is considered much more reliable than a patent application, which is published without
review. OK, let’s get to this week’s assignment.
For Part 1 of your assignment this week, search for a patent application based on any of your
previous searches this semester. You can base your search on the topic you did at the beginning
of the semester, on one of the authors you searched in the past, or one of the chemicals from the
last few weeks. You might have to search through a couple of items before you find one, but
download a pdf file of this patent application.
For Part 2 of your assignment this week, find and download an issued patent from a different
source than you used for Part 1.
You should now have two (potentially lengthy) pdf files. Rather than have you compile both into
a giant document, just make a single document that contains the title pages of each of your two
searches. Combine them into a single document. Save it as either a .doc file or a .pdf file, naming
the file as:
FirstnameLastnameAssignment13.doc or FirstnameLastnameAssignment13.pdf
Formatting (15 points)
Part 1 (40 points)
Part 2 (40 points)
Total (100 points)
2 pdf files merged into 1 pdf
• +5 for the 2 files being
merged into 1 file
• +5 for each file in pdf
form (either just their
title pages or their
1 patent application
• +40 for a patent
1 issued patent
• +40 for an issued
Part 1 and Part 2 in pdf
• +5 for completing
• +80 for Part 1 and
• +15 formatting
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