Connect the Dots: Interdisciplinarity and Patent Doctrine

Michal Shur-Ofry (Hebrew University), “Connect the Dots: Interdisciplinarity and Patent Doctrine”

Research in various domains suggests a positive link between interdisciplinarity and innovation. Transcending disciplinary boundaries, this literature indicates, allows innovators to “connect the dots” between seemingly disparate fields, stimulates the development of innovative and valuable technologies, and is more likely to yield breakthrough inventions. Adopting this article’s proposals and incorporating the concepts of interdisciplinarity and recombinations into patent doctrine holds numerous potential advantages for patent law. First, it would introduce a relevant, concrete and measurable criterion into the nonobviousness analysis, famously criticized for its uncertainty and ambiguity. Second, it would allow to calibrate and refine specific legal doctrines, particularly the doctrine of “analogous art” and the treatment of combination inventions. Finally, and more generally, it would enable patent law to realize some of the enormous potential of the information that can be drawn from patents databases—a goldmine which the current legal regime leaves untapped.