Sunday, May 02, 2010

Anyone for CML ?

Today's post is not about medical nasties such as chronic myelogenous leukemia, but rather Chemical Markup Language (here), or even more generally, the representation of chemical structures and other chemical data such as spectra in patent applications.

Way back in 2006, I raised this issue in the online filing forum of the EPO (here). As I later discovered, CML was in fact already being considered by the EPO, as evidenced by a report published by Dr. Wendy Warr in 2004 (here, p.49-50). Since then, unless I'm very much mistaken, no progress seems to have been made whatsoever. Am I to understand that the filing powers that be and industry still have come to no agreement, or is it that, as I was led to believe, the USPTO is so entrenched in its use of TIFF that it can not adapt to a recognised standard for the representation of chemical formulae ? If so, then it really is a pretty poor show all round. After all, it is not as if there is no software around capable of converting a graphically driven interface rendering of a structure into compliant CML - there are now several, both proprietary and open source, and additionally capable of running on multiple operating systems (see herehere, and  here).

So what is holding back the adoption of CML directly in patent applications, instead of the current practice of having to draw the structures and save them as bitmap images, which are then copied into the word processing document, saved, recompressed and rendered un-reusable thereafter  ? How significant is the reticence or lack of knowledge on the part of patent attorneys or the subcontractors who prepare chemical drawings ?

If anyone has any gems of information on the subject, I would be interested to know.

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