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88 N.C. L. Rev. 185 (2009-2010)
Serendipity

handle is hein.journals/nclr88 and id is 187 raw text is: SERENDIPITY*
SEAN B. SEYMORE**
Serendipity, the process of finding something of value initially
unsought, has played a prominent role in modern science and
technology. These happy accidents have spawned new fields of
science, broken    intellectual and   technological barriers, and
furnished countless products that have altered the course of human
history. In the realm of patent law, one curious aspect of accidental
discoveries that has received little attention in the academic
literature and the courts is how they mesh with the substantive law
of invention. This Essay shows that applying conventional doctrines
to accidental inventions is theoretically untenable and, in certain
circumstances, may result in unfortunate outcomes for the inventor.
As a result, this Essay offers an alternative approach that is better
suited to deal with accidental inventions. Finally, this Essay reflects
on how adoption of this alternative approach is appropriate
considering the fact that accidental inventions benefit the patent
system and the public, especially their potential to spur significant
follow-on innovation.
INTRO  DU CTIO N  ....................................................................................... 186
1.    UNDERSTANDING AN ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERY ................... 192
A. Chance Favors the Prepared Mind ...................................... 192
B. Serendipity in Unpredictable Technologies ..................... 194
II.   ACCIDENTAL INVENTION IN PATENT LAW .............................. 196
A. When Does an Accident Become an Invention? ................. 196
1.  Pinpointing  Conception  .................................................. 201
2. Pinpointing Reduction to Practice ................................ 201
3.  Priority  Issues ................................................................... 202
* © 2009 Sean B. Seymore.
** Assistant Professor and Alumni Faculty Fellow, Washington & Lee University
School of Law; J.D., University of Notre Dame, 2006; Ph.D. (Chemistry), University of
Notre Dame, 2001; M.S.Chem., Georgia Institute of Technology, 1996; B.S., University of
Tennessee, 1993. I thank those who have supported and provided valuable feedback on
various aspects of this project, including Timothy Holbrook and Craig Nard. I also thank
the Frances Lewis Law Center at Washington & Lee for its support of this project through
a research grant. E-mail: seymores@wlu.edu.

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