An online cognitive screening exam known as the "Sweet 16" (which we blogged on last year) is no longer available after the holder of copyright of the Mini-Mental State Examination ("MMSE") issued a copyright claim over the online test’s content.

In December 2011, developers of the Sweet 16 (while not admitting any breach of  copyright) permanently removed the cognitive impairment examination from the Internet in response to a copyright infringement accusation by the entity which manages the copyright license to the MMSE.  The Sweet 16 involves 16 elements including questions on basic orientation, items to remember, and counting sequences forwards and backwards.  Test developers provided open access to the Sweet 16 noting that copyright rules restricted the wider-known MMSE.

The MMSE was created in 1975 by Marshal Folstein, MD, and was freely available to doctors until its copyright license was actively managed in 2001.

Interestingly, most medical tests have a copyright. For example, the Framingham risk score, which accesses a patient’s risk of stroke; the FRAX, a predictor of fractures; and the Katz Activities of Daily Living assessment, which measures a person’s functional status all have copyrights which expire 70 years after the copyright owner’s death or longer in some cases.


David Morgan Smith – Click here for more information on David Smith