US Patent Office awards patent to herbal snakeoil that "kills cancer"


Killing cancer cells is easy, you can do it with household bleach.

It’s killing them without taking out the rest of the body that’s the tricky part.


No doubt the examiner said something like “I swear the next application I see that isn’t software or business process I’m awarding sight unseen” – not expecting, of course, to actually be handed one.


I like the use of “rebuke” here. Smacks of Benny Hinn.




It works people (they said so)! You cure cancer and then people think that you don’t deserve a patent for it. Gosh, what did you expect the Patent Office to do–not award a patent for the technology that kills cancer?

Anyways, don’t we have a bigger problem right now? We’ve got to dismantle billions and billions of dollars worth of cancer research institutes and make them research something else. Focus!


The rules of patenting don’t require that the invention actually does what they claim it does, only that it is a new, non-obvious thing. (Exceptions include perpetual motion machines and such, which require a working model to receive a patent.) If this was a new combination of ingredients, used in a new way, then they deserved to get a patent. It’s not like it cost us any money – the Patent office is entirely funded by application fees.


It’s that kind of shit that gives Snake Oil a bad name.


It should be noted that the EFF article, and this Boingboing post as a result, got the patent number WRONG, even though the link is correct. The correct patent number is 8,609,158.

But the patent examiner could and should have rejected it on any number of grounds, including enablement, indefiniteness, and utility.

I’ve read the patent, and it is very poorly written, obviously by the person herself. However, it does give a recipe for making the concoction she is claiming.

That’s enablement. You take the recipe, you follow it, you get the resulting mixture. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t do what she claims it does, since the function of a defined compound or mixture is inextricably linked to its makeup. She gets a patent on the mixture, and whatever it can do, it does.

Indefiniteness also doesn’t apply – the claim is the administration of a number of substances, and each of those substances is clearly defined in the claim and the body.

Utility also doesn’t apply, because you can make this and use it. It may not do anyone any damn good, but it can be made and used.

Maybe the laws need to be changed, granted, but as they exist now, this patent was correctly granted, unless someone else has used this combination of ingredients before.

I liked this part of the patent:

Add 4 cups of milk, stir and cook until almost dry. (Interchangeable with other Milk ingredients such as evaporated milk, cream, and sperm).

Yeah, sounds great!


Indeed you are correct sir.

Perhaps cookbook authors should patent their recipes, instead of copyrighting them, and recast the books as licenses to manufacture.

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I’m pretty worried for the person who submitted this patent. On reading, it looks like she’s a psychotic who has refused medical care for cancer treatment.

Excerpted from the patent:

You can interchange different drugs in this patent. I cooked in Aspirin, and Zyprexa and Zydis. You may combine this patent with anti-psychosis medicines with that specific benefit as an example Zyprexa in my combined adaptable food medicine. I used aspirin, Zyprexa, lithium and many can be added thus making it interchangeable. You don’t even need Pharmaceutical drug to combine with my patent’. You can simply just eat it as food.

Also excerpted from the patent:

I refused my second surgery and daily treated myself with these processed ingredients. The Dr. was scheduled to cut open my entire neck and gut out all my upper lymph nodes and tonsils and whatever else he found, then chemo me and radiate me. I said no. He said it was in my calls. Well, my treatment works great. It is 4½ years after my lymph node cancer was found and I have no signs of cancer.

I’m guessing “calls” is a typo for “cells” and she may have metastasized. (A later typo replaces “Just” with “Lust”.) I sincerely hope she’s doing OK.


I think that in almost all cases the prior art would kill their chances at being granted patents, however.

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Well this is quite literally a patent medicine, and very much in the tradition.


I wonder what percentage of patents are actually for anything efficacious?

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I knew I shouldn’t have rushed to get chemo.

Interesting, sick, sad … and I wonder, if this had not been noticed by EFF (a great organization) and picked up by boingboing and who knows where else, would this have just disappeared in the bad patent heap of history? Now, with exposure throughout the internets, how many desperate people will forego legitimate treatment to cook this up in their kitchens?

I remember the Laetrile Clinics back in the 70s…

Well I would certainly say that the combination of primrose oil, coffee, meat, cheese and green beans qualifies as “nonobvious” - at least in the treatment of cancer. Take out the primrose though and it starts to just sound like lunch…

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Yeah… I get why we’re all turning our noses up at the “cure” itself, and I get why reasonable people can disagree about whether the Patent Office should be handing out patents for useless things. (I’m okay with it myself, but I can see the other side’s point.)

But it’s bizarre that the EFF, which really ought to know better, is talking about the USPTO “handing out legal howitzers” in this case. Who’s going to infringe this patent? Who are these people going to troll with this?

Hell, it’s not even like patenting adds some gloss of respectability to the stuff. The very term “patent medicine” refers to the old-timey snake oil that got sold at medicine shows back in the day.

patent for what was marketed as viagra