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Earlier this year I filed an international patent application related to a global hot topic. It will automatically be published in Aug 2023, but due to the complexity and length (150 pages), almost no-one will read it. In order to get funding (to launch implementation), I will need to explain the concepts in a brief and understandable way and bring this to a wide audience. The patent applies to a system of methods. I need to publish at least two articles in peer reviewed journals. The 1st article will be a simplified description of the most important underlying methods. The 2nd will present a calculation example of one of the most important applications. I will try to get both papers submitted within a month. The attorneys recommended to keep the patent text and patent number confidential until after publication.

Questions:

  1. Do I need to make the journal editors aware of the fact that the patent will be published in August 2023?
  2. If Q1 is negative, should I?
  3. What is likely to happen when I submit the articles in January 2023, but one or more are not ready for print prior to patent publication? Will the journal stop publication / reject the article?
  4. Are there negative consequences of not informing the editors?
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Most of this will depend on the journals' conflict of interest policy, so without more details it's impossible to say for sure.

But in general, in all journals I regularly submit to, related patents are considered a conflict of interest, even if unpublished/at the application stage. This doesn't mean the work can't be published, but it does mean the journals expects them to be disclosed at the time of submission.

Not doing this breaches the conditions of submission, which may affect editor's decisions and usually warrants a correction to the paper to disclose it if it's detected after acceptance, but rejection/retraction is sometimes noted as a consequence for undisclosed conflicts of interest. In practice, I'm not aware of any paper that has actually been retracted for this issue in my field, so it's unclear if that's a real risk.

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  • What do you mean exactly with "the journals expect them to be disclosed at the time of submission"? To inform the journal that a patent was filed covering parts or all of the content of the paper submitted, possibly with the patent filing date. Or do you mean that the journal expects me to disclose the tile and patent number of the patent, something that the attorneys recommended against?
    – Hans B.
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 23:47
  • If I would disclose that a patent was filed (covering the paper subject area), but not yet published, would this negatively impact the probability of paper acceptance?
    – Hans B.
    Commented Dec 28, 2022 at 23:59
  • The details are journal-specific. Some would probably be happy with "HB is listed as an inventor on a patent application related to this work" as a disclosure, some require more detail on the nature of the patent. See, e.g. the disclosure form used by some medical journals. So you'll need to check your target journal, and past papers in it, to see how they approach such things. I don't think such a disclosure would negatively affect the likelihood the paper is accepted, assuming the paper otherwise adequately describes the work. Commented Dec 29, 2022 at 10:23
  • Thanks Stephen!
    – Hans B.
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 0:22

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