There are many among us whose daily work includes the e-filing of sequence listings. By this we mean computer-readable listings of nucleotides and amino acids that form part of a patent application. The people who do this kind of work all made a mark on their calendars more than a year ago for January 1, 2022 for the Big Bang. Many of the people who do this kind of work belong to the ST.26 listserv (see blog article), which is an email discussion group for people who work with sequence listings when they e-file patent applications. (If you work with sequence listings, and if you have not yet joined the ST.26 listserv, then I suggest you join the listserv.)
The Big Bang relates to the way that the filer of a patent application formats the sequence listing. The way things are right now in 2021, if you are getting ready to file a patent application, and if you are going to need to include a sequence listing as part of the patent application, then you will be formatting it according to a standard called ST.25. But there is a new standard for the formatting of sequence listings called ST.26.
For more than a year, it had been planned that January 1, 2022 was the day when all of the patent offices of the world would commence requiring that a newly filed patent application be formatted according to ST.26 rather than ST.25. The colloquial way to say this is that what was going to happen on January 1, 202 was the “Big Bang”.
The big news is that all of the patent offices of the world recently had a meeting about ST.26 and they decided to postpone the Big Bang for six months, that is, until July 1, 2022.
This is, of course, a mix of good news and bad news, right?
For those filers who have been sort of dreading having to get used to the new way of formatting a sequence listing (that is, getting used to the ST.26 standard), then in a way this is good news. For most of us, if we think something is going to be unpleasant, then the news that the unpleasant thing is going to be delayed, it is a sort of natural reaction to count this as good news. On the other hand, some people will say that sometimes it is better just to “rip off the band-aid”. That if something has the potential to be unpleasant, maybe it is just as well to get it over with and to move on so that we can stop dreading the prospect of the dreaded event.
Not only that, but let’s assume for sake of discussion that there is some good reason for using ST.26 instead of ST.25. On this assumption, maybe it means that patent examiners can do their jobs better. Maybe it means that patent offices can do a better job of figuring out what is patentable and what is not. Maybe it means that when a searcher is doing a search in the database of all of the sequence listings that have ever been filed in any patent application (yes, there is such a database, and you can search it for free), the searcher will be able to do more and different kinds of searches that have a chance of leading more and better search results. Anyway, let’s assume this, that somehow ST.26 has a chance of promoting science and the useful arts better than ST.25.
If so, then the postponing of the Big Bang by six months is a postponement of whatever those benefits are of the use of ST.26.
So yes, this postponement is arguably a mix of both good news and bad news.
But setting aside whether you, the reader, personally think of the postponement of the Big Bang by six months as good news or bad news … I am posting this blog article to let you know, it is how things are going to be. The Big Bang for ST.26 will not happen on January 1, 2022 as previously scheduled. It will not happen until six months later, on July 1, 2022.