Bulk sequence applications have (and are still) used to make claims to large numbers of sequences from an organism (including many animals, bacteria, and plants). There is no upper limit to the number of sequences that can be claimed within a single patent application within the US system. Some plant applications may contain more than 100,000 sequences. Hence the success of even a single bulk sequence application would mean that a large portion of a plant genome would be protected by patent claims. Another interesting point is that it is common for companies to license technologies that have a “patent-pending” status (i.e. that have not yet received a granted patent). Hence the protection that might be derived from a granted patent is incentive enough to provide protection in itself. Therefore patent applications (including bulk sequence applications) are also important when considering issues of deliverability, innovation and freedom-to-operate.

Whilst Monsanto’s efforts to patent large numbers of maize ESTs were recently unsuccessful, examples of granted bulk sequence patents exist, and applicants continue to pursue bulk sequence applications at the USPTO.

Are there bulk sequence applications for Arabidopsis ?

In the following chapters we will investigate bulk sequence applications for Arabidopsis genes.