The open source movement, called the Biological Innovation for an Open Society (BIOS), was initiative by molecular geneticist Dr. Richard Jefferson, founder and CEO of the CAMBIA (Centre for the Application of Molecular Biology to International Agriculture) in Canberra. BIOS is an attempt to establish an open-source technology movement in the biotechnology industry, similar to the computing industry’s open-source software movement.

BIOS provides biotechnology with its own free ‘operating system’: a public-domain toolkit and associated patents, aimed at freeing researchers worldwide to innovate without restriction, and without being forced into partnerships or unfavorable royalty agreements. They have developed a core toolkit of patented techniques that will expand into a protected ‘commons’, protected by licenses and other contracts, as biotechnology researchers and agencies around the world contribute new ideas and refinements..

Now, CAMBIA and BIOS have announced the creation of an open-access patent database collating IP data from several national patent offices called CAMBIA Patent Lens. The patent informatics and analysis component of the BiOS Initiative aims to assist in navigation of the intellectual property landscape, particularly within the life sciences, by making it more transparent.

From Patent Lens:

Why are we doing this?

The patent system was created to advance societal benefit by encouraging public disclosure of inventions and clear definition of each invention, in exchange for a strictly limited monopoly. The invention may be used wherever the patent monopoly is not in force (for example when it has expired or where it was not granted, or in technology to which the patent claims do not extend). Patent informatics tools can assist the user to determine the boundaries of intellectual property constraints on deliverable innovations, and usable building blocks for future innovations.

What can be searched?

The Patent Lens resource comprises a fully text-searchable patents database, containing over 5,500,000 patents and patent applications from the PCT, US, and EPO databases. We have the life sciences collections from these jurisdictions and have recently added all patent classifications from the US applications and granted patents. We will be expanding to all classifications in the EPO and PCT collections within the next few months.

We receive regular updates of additional patents and patent applications by subscriptions from national patent offices and WIPO. We would like to include patents and patent applications from additional classifications and jurisdictions. If your jurisdiction of interest is not included, you may want to contact the patent office in that jurisdiction to suggest the information be provided to the Patent Lens.

The CAMBIA-BiOS patent search resource also includes a user interface to search INPADOC patent family information provided by the national patent offices of over 70 countries, as well as status information provided by many of these countries. Once you have searched the patent and patent application database and identified patents of interest, a link on the search results page will allow you to obtain status information, if any is available, for the patent documents related to those you select. Although the INPADOC information that patent offices provide is not always up to date and complete, this can help to give an idea whether a patent application related to one of interest was filed in other countries, and possibly whether patents are in force or applications are still pending. Further information on a patent or patent application in a particular country of interest (which may have different claims pending or allowed than the parent application, depending on that country’s laws) may then be obtainable from that country’s patent office.

See more here.

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