Legal definition of Patents

Claiming Biodegradablility or Compostability – Patents, Labeling, and the FTC  October 5, 2012 – 01:19 am

As reported here earlier this week,the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has revised its Green Guides,guidance to marketers for the use of certain terms so as to prevent deception in the marketplace. While many topics covered in the Green Guides are potential issues for manufacturers and retailers and how they market their products,one of the more interesting changes to the Guides are the revised definitions of “degradable” and “compostable” and how they will apply to an emerging plastics market that is producing more packaging and products that degrade over time and how these definitions may be used in patent claims.

As noted in Alexander H. Tullo’s article,Old Plastics,Fresh Dirt (Chemical & Engineering News,March 19,2012),“[i]n the plastics industry,terms like ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable’ are thrown around loosely” because,as a completely theoretical exercise,if you wait long enough everything will biodegrade.  In an attempt to reign in the use of these terms,the plastics industry uses specifications published by the ASTM,and specifically for biodegradation,ASTM D6400.  However,in order to comply with the new FTC Guides,the use of these terms when selling products or packaging needs to be limited or appropriately qualified so as not to be deceptive.  For example,qualification is generally necessary for a statement of degradability unless it has “competent and reliable scientific evidence that the entire item will completely break down and return to nature (i.e.,decompose into elements found in nature) within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal.” Sec. 260.8.

Source: Green Mountain IP

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