Laboratory Notebooks: Valuable Indicators of Intellectual Property

In the keeping of good laboratory records, it is important to be both earnest and diligent, as this article shows with references to a famous play by Oscar Wilde (see sidebar). Sometimes the success of a patent challenge can depend on the pages of a well-kept laboratory notebook. 

In the real world of industry, the well-being and economic success of a company or university can sometimes hinge on the ability to prove it has rights to intellectual properties - such as inventions and trade secrets. Thus when chemists, research scientists or technicians are called upon to produce actual proof of their work, they will quickly realize the value of having been earnest and diligent in maintaining good laboratory testing and research records. A well maintained laboratory notebook, in particular, can be not only a vital business record of research performed, but also can be vital for proving who did what, when and why. The laboratory notebook also can be invaluable for proving that a trade secret was developed in-house, and, in the case of a new employee, can prove that some critical information or invention was not improperly appropriated from a former employer. 

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