Markush Structure: A Brief Analysis


Eugene Markush brought a drastic change in the scientific IP (intellectual property) by authoring a patent in 1924.  Also, it was the beginning of the Markush Structure. There was a phrase among his claims that brought a different perception for the examiners.

‘The process for the manufacture of dyes which comprizes coupling with a halogen-substituted pyrazolone, a diazotized unsuphonated material selected from the group consisting of aniline, homologues of aniline and halogen substitution products of aniline’.

At first, the patent examiner rejected the broad language. Markush appealed to the US Commissioner for Patent. Thus, he was able to obtain US Patent Number 1506316 for “Pyrazolone Dye and Process of making the same”. Also, it started the practice of creating more generic claims. It allows the applicant to claim a number of chemical structures with the help of a single claim. The Markush structure is unique to chemistry. However, one may relate the concept with engineering, mechanics, architecture, and even IT. Moreover, these claims describe a group of related designs, structures, styles, systems, or organizations in a simpler way.

In chemistry, the Markush structure defines a simple way to describe a number of different chemical constructions that accomplish the same or similar function. These structures are helpful in:

  • Identifying similar structures
  • Performing patent literature searches
  • Researching on patentability opportunities
  • Searching for prior art claims to determine potential infringement

Markush Structure

Example: US Patent 6 268 504 (9) that defines a chemical class

Also Read: How to Write a Patent Application Accurately?

Markush Structure Database: MARPAT

There is a particular database for the Markush structure search. It is called MARPAT®. Searching within a general database as well as a Markush database is essential. MARPAT retrieves references for a particular structure. Therefore, a client may seek help from the Markush structure database if he is looking to create a generic version of the structure.

However, the use of Markush structure in patents is becoming very difficult to interpret. This is so because the patentee tries to cover the maximum number of functional equivalent every time. The amount of data and complexity makes the Markush structure database search a difficult, time consuming and lengthy process.

Some of the important facts about the MARPAT are:

  • Covers more than 1.1 million Markush structures which are updated on a regular basis (1988-present)
  • Includes 471,000+ citations for Markush structure-containing patents (till September 2016)
  • Works as an extension of the CAS REGISTRY and contains generic and atom-level variable structures
  • A searcher may enter both MARPAT and CAS REGISTRY in order to obtain the most detailed, up-to-date information. Also, it helps to avoid potential oversights.
  • The client may obtain the most comprehensive choice available during the FTO search with the help of official search services of CAS.

Also Read: Patent Draft: Major Core Principles

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