DATABASE: Patent Cornucopia

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Science  08 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5694, pp. 205
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5694.205a

This new database from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tallies the more than 11,000 U.S. patents issued from 1976 to 2000 for agricultural biotechnology and processes. The collection, which can be searched by technology or patent owner, provides “a useful picture of who is doing what,” according to USDA agricultural economist John King. You can see who holds the most agbiotech patents (Monsanto) or examine trends (for example, pharmaceutical patents doubled from 1996 to 1997 to more than 140 a year). Researchers can use the data to probe broader questions, such as how the increasing control of patents by a few companies affects discovery.

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