Kevin Outterson

87 Texas L. Rev. See Also 45

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In this comment, Professor Outterson challenges Professor Roin’s argument that pharmaceutical innovation and public health are harmed by the patent doctrines of non-obviousness and novelty.

He argues that obscure or accidental publications are not actually pushing too many inventions into the public domain and thus substantially limiting the patent eligibility of subsequent pharmaceutical inventions. Outterson particularly disputes Roin’s use of the pain medication Ultracet as an example of such harm. After reviewing the factual circumstances surrounding the drug’s design, the patent application process, and subsequent litigation challenges, he concludes that: the disclosure of the prior art that limited Ultracet’s patentability was not inadvertent; that Ultracet was successfully patented and commercialized notwithstanding the public domain (and did not unduly suffer from free riding); and that ultimately Ultracet was not a particularly valuable drug. The Ultracet case explored in this comment raises very interesting counterpoints to Roin’s claims concerning the real-world harms caused by the non-obviousness and novelty doctrines.