Monday, March 4, 2019

The USPTO Enabled The Theranos Scam

Ars Technica today reports on the USPTO's role in Theranos' con job. Enabled in very large part by Elizabeth Holmes' never-reduced-to-practice patent of a "microfluidic patch that could test blood for infectious organisms and could deliver antibiotics through the same microfluidic channels", the thing metastasized:
 The provisional application, filed in September 2003 when Holmes was just 19 years old, describes “medical devices and methods capable of real-time detection of biological activity and the controlled and localized release of appropriate therapeutic agents.” This provisional application would mature into many issued patents. In fact, there are patent applications still being prosecuted that claim priority back to Holmes’ 2003 submission.


...[M]ore than a decade after Holmes’ first patent application, Theranos had still not managed to build a reliable blood-testing device. By then the USPTO had granted it hundreds of patents. Holmes had been constructing a fantasy world from the minute she started writing her first application, and the agency was perfectly happy to play along.
An appalling story.

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