Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

History Repeats Itself via Scientific Patents

In New Jersey, legislators are contemplating making changes in legal regulations regarding patents. In January 2019 and February 2019, Sen. Thom Tillis and Sen. Chris Coons held meetings about patents and the law. The senators are proposing to make new rules similar to those invented by Francesco Ruffini in 1923. At that time, Ruffini, an Italian senator, wanted to allow scientific researchers rights to patent their discoveries.

Ruffini wrote a fascinating text backed by both the League of Nations and well-known scientists. However, Ruffini's idea failed. Scientists across the globe did not approve of his plan. Lawmakers disregarded his concept. Ruffini's Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, a branch of the League of Nations, regarded his notion as an undertaking devoid of any noticeable merits. The committee's prestigious members included Albert Einstein and Marie Curie. Today's scientists tend to agree with these past decisions. The committee's mission was to create a university for all nations and an academic exchange program. The committee also wanted to adopt Esperanto as its official language.

But Ruffini, who was a member, had his own views about how to conduct research. He stated that a scientist should own a patent for the new discovery. One example was his viewpoint that the scientists who discovered Hertzian (radio) waves should receive monetary compensation for their efforts. Laws regarding patents did not include scientific discoveries involving nature. Even so, Ruffini did experience a measure of success. His proposal was initially approved by the committee and promoted by a law professor named John Wigmore.

Today, Section 101 is designed with the purpose of understanding the intrinsic nature of patents, especially as they pertain to the laws of nature. Researchers seeking legal protection of their scientific discoveries should consult with a patent lawyer. A lawyer can help scientists submit complex patent applications.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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