Suppose a patent has been filed (or is in process of being filed) over the same research that is described in a paper.

Does filing a patent application require disclosure in the paper publication process?

If so, what would be the expected format of disclosure during the paper publication process, regarding the patent pending status?

  • 3
    From legal point of you, you always fill first, publish later. Beyond that you dont have much restriction. Patenting does not influence your copyrights, those are two totally different IPs. From best practice/ethical point of view, I have seen literally dozens of papers of high profile authors where I knew they patented the process, and it wasn't mentioned even in half sentence in the paper - and yet to see a paper that explicitly mentions a submitted patent. The requirements of patenting and publishing are very different, as well as the content of the patent vs paper.
    – Greg
    Sep 2, 2014 at 10:08
  • Cleaning up obsolete comments related to previous, closed version of this question...
    – ff524
    Sep 2, 2014 at 19:33
  • This related question asks whether obtaining a patent first for results, will it make it more difficult to publish the same results.
    – ff524
    Sep 2, 2014 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


The answer to this depends on the state of the filing and the particulars of the publication venue.

  • If you haven't filed anything yet, you definitely aren't required to disclose, and more than you are required to cite a paper that hasn't been submitted yet. After all, any number of things might prevent the filing from happening. Also, if you disclose before filing, it could screw up your patent.

  • If you have filed, then it depends on whether the venue requires you to disclose a conflict of interest. For example, PLoS ONE is very picky about conflict disclosure, but most IEEE venues do not care. A patent filing (preliminary or full), is reasonable to treat as a conflict of interest.

If you're not sure, though, then the people handling your patent will almost certainly be willing to help you figure out the right way to handle it. In my experience, the IP offices of many institutions are very happy when researchers are actually willing to engage with them and will be very helpful to you.

  • Thanks @jakebeal. I am, however, not certain why does a patent application constitue a conflict of interest. What would be a concrete basis for that claim? I assume it would just be logical to note the patent application within the article (e.g. a patent pending notice), so as to not lead people to be infringing the patent if later granted.
    – matanox
    Oct 15, 2014 at 2:28
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    @matt Patents generally involve financial interests, which are often perceived as inducing bias in research. See, for example, the many concerns over drug studies. The PLoS ONE policy on competing interests has some nice explanations.
    – jakebeal
    Oct 15, 2014 at 3:11

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