Symposium: The Disclosure Function of the Patent System
Seymore, Sean B.
Achieving a robust disclosure from patent applicants is no easy task because it brings to the fore competing goals of the patent system. For example, the law must strike a balance between its interest in early disclosure and the need to transform the patent into a substantive technical document that can itself promote innovation. The law must also strike a delicate balance between the public's interest in disclosure and the inventor's incentive to disclose. A lax disclosure requirement compromises the quid pro quo, meaning that the public might get shortchanged in the so-called patent bargain. But a stringent disclosure requirement might push some inventors toward trade secrecy (i.e., no disclosure)-the antithesis of the patent system. Despite its central role in the patent system, only recently have scholars begun to seriously wrestle with the theoretical and doctrinal aspects of the disclosure function. Hopefully, this Symposium issue will stimulate future debate over and inquiry into this important issue in patent law.