patents on Barrayar

Well, in the Barrayaran universe, anyway. Lois McMaster Bujold, in Memory, mentions patent labeling techniques during a briefing on a “bioengineered apoptotic prokaryote”:

“I could read much of its product history off its molecular structure. First of all, whoever made this did not begin from scratch. This is a modification of an existing, patented apoptotic organism originally designed to destroy neural plaque. The galactic patent code for that perfectly legitimate medical application was still readable on some of the molecular fragments. The modified prokaryote, however, bore no identifications of laboratories of origin, licensing, or patent markings. The original patent is about ten years old, by the way, which gives you the first point in your time-window problem.”

“That was going to be my next question,” said Miles. “I hope we can narrow things down more than that.”

“Of course. But you see how much we learn already, just from the codes and their absences. The original medical prokaryote was pirated for the new purpose, and the people who modified it were obviously not concerned with legitimizing it for mass trade. It has all the signs of being a one-off job for a one-time customer.”

Memory, Chapter 21 (p.307-308)