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To the editor: In a story on traditional knowledge written by Nancy Kremers that appeared in the March 24 issue of Legal Times’ IP[" They Thought It First," Page 14], a statement attributed to me was incorrect. I would like to correct the statement and elaborate a little on the point I was trying to make. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patents on approximately 75 percent of the applications filed, not 5 percent as indicated in the article. The conventional wisdom is that only about 5 percent of the patents granted are actually commercialized. Thus, there is little correlation between the grant of a patent and profits obtained from the commercialization of the patent. Therefore, a source country will undoubtedly be disappointed if it associates patenting with profits gained from the commercialization of an invention utilizing genetic resources. In fact, very little, if any, money is made from the vast majority of these resources. Instead, we believe that the way to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits that are derived from the use of genetic resources from a source country is to implement a contract-based access and benefit-sharing system that includes periodic reporting requirements. The USPTO examines applications and grants patents on inventions that are new, useful, and non-obvious when measured against what is already known. Eighty percent of all patent applications are rejected after a patent examiner’s first review. Typically, an examiner will engage in two or three rounds of review and dialogue with the applicant before a patent is granted. The examiner reviews claims, checks supporting data, and conducts a thorough search of prior patents and non-patent literature to ensure the applicant is entitled to a patent. As Ms. Kremers points out in the article, examiners lack access to complete information on traditional knowledge because much of the potential information is either not recorded or not accessible to examiners. This is why the U.S. government encourages individuals and communities holding traditional knowledge to disclose that knowledge in accessible, searchable databases. Finally, where relevant information becomes available after the grant of a patent, the patent system can correct itself: Any third party, at any time during the life of the patent, may request a re-examination of the patent if evidence is found that the invention is not new. Linda S. Lourie Attorney-Adviser Office of International Relations U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Washington, D.C.

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