How does CAMBIA’s Patent Lens help to make intellectual property rights more transparent?

The Patent Lens ( is a collection of tools to help reduce barriers to innovation that are created by uncertainty about patents, and also to help innovators find technology they can use. With a fast search engine developed by CAMBIA, it’s possible to find descriptions of technology in
• patent applications that were never granted,
• patents not in force in particular countries where the right to file has been exhausted,
• patents with narrow claims that don’t cover as much as the application described, and
• patents that are lapsed or withdrawn,
all indicators of tools that may be used in certain places without the need for a license.

In the joint work, CAMBIA’s Patent Lens, already one of the most comprehensive cost-free full-text patent databases in the world, will be extended to include patents in major rice-growing countries, including China, Korea, and India, countries that will play lead roles in the next generation of biological problem solving.

CAMBIA has already used patent analysis to develop the first explicitly ‘open source’ biotechnology toolkit, published in the journal Nature in February 2005. The claims covering the classic technique of plant gene transfer by Agrobacterium in hundreds of patents were bypassed using other symbiotic bacteria to add beneficial genes to rice and other plants.

By shedding light on the dominant rights, “patent landscape” analyses will be a guide to where the minefields are, and where the green fields are.

CAMBIA also plans to develop Patent Lens tools that will allow users to query the owners of the rights about licensing, and share comments about the descriptions in patents and patent maps. Our aim is to foster the capacity in the developing world to add to and create patent maps of current technologies and key emerging technologies.

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