A recent entry on the Retraction Watch blog (“Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process”) highlights the retraction of an article in the Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. The retraction notice has the following wording:
We regret to inform that the published paper included a few parts that disclosed confidential information which should have been protected under patent law. We admit that the request for retraction is due to the indiscretion of the authors, and confirmed that editorial committee of KJPP have not conducted any fault in publishing the paper.
However, as with all retracted papers, the paper is still available online; even if it weren't, it was available for some time.
So, given those facts, what purpose(s) does the retraction serve? The confidential information was published, and you can't get the cat back into the bag once it's out. This indicates an ethical failure of the authors, but in that particular case isn't that something they should sort out with their employer and the financial sponsor?
It beats me.