Scope of this landscape

Why a technology landscape on positive selection systems?

In our experience, the intellectual property landscape in biotechnology areas is often not very well understood by the research community, especially the public sector. All too often rumours and misstatements about patents are passed along from researcher to researcher. This is an unfortunate situation; however, it is understandable as scientists are not generally familiar with reading and understanding patents.

With the increasing importance and emphasis on patents, it is becoming necessary for scientists to be versed in the field of intellectual property. To assist researchers and others in gaining an overview and understanding of relevant intellectual property, we are preparing a series of white papers in chosen topic areas of agricultural biotechnology.

As mentioned in the preface, positive selection systems used in plant biotechnology have certain advantages over negtive selection systems. Some of the positive selection systems have been applied to the transformation of not only  the model plants such as Arabidopsis, but also the crops of agricultural importance such as  maize, rice, wheat, patato, cassava, sugarbeet, orange and pearl millet. Many patents and patent applications concerning technology in the transformation of plant cells by positive selection of transformants hace been granted or filed.

With this paper and others now present on or planned for the Patent Lens, we strive to provide a readable and understandable overview of patents in some key areas of biotechnology. In this way, we hope to contribute to the public awareness of intellectual property issues that surround these key biotechnological tools. The information in the white papers is not exhaustive, but consists of selected documents found to broadly encompass the area. To satisfy the myriad questions and issues raised by the research or the interests of each person who visits this site would require a host of attorneys and an enormous amount of time. Instead, this paper is provided in order to open the door into the patent world and furnish platform knowledge from which additional self-directed investigation can be performed.

Because we believe that there is a great deal of value to tapping a broad knowledge base and collaborative problem-solving, we’d love to have your comments as we explore this landscape. Our comment interface allows you to weigh in.   We are expecially interested in your thoughts on prior art, information on the status of the patent (for example, whether it’s expired, been abandoned or allowed to lapsed or if it’s the subject of a litigation), and information about licensing (Is it currently licensed?  Exclusively? Non-exclusively?  Who’s the licensing contact for the patent owner?) and other information or ideas you’d like to share about the technical subject matter of the patent.

The scope of the landscape

This technology landscape is mainly focused on positive selection methods based on enzymes for the metabolism of different carbon or nitrogen sources. However, we reckon that positive selection can have a broden meaning as long as a selection system is based on favouring transgenic cells while keeping the growth pattern  of the non-transgenic cells rather than killing the non-transgenic cells. These selection systems include:

  • methods based on adaptation of temperature
  • methods based on the interaction of a receptor with the target ligand
  • methods for stimulating cell growth using polynucleotides encoding certain polypeptides (transcriptional activators)
  • Hormone-dependent selection
  • methods based on phosphorus utilization

What is this technology landscape about?

This technology landscape on positive selection systems of plants presents basic scientific aspects, as well as the key intellectual property aspects, of the selection systems used in plant transformation that differentiate the transformed cells from the non-transformed cells by providing growth advantages to the transformed cells.

The Technology Overview section provides some historical perspective and basic scientific information about each paticular technology included in this landscape analysis. The IP Issues section comprises serach strategy, an overview on key patents and patent applications encompassing the technology and a table with detailed information on each patent and patent application including bibliographic data, independent claims and a summary of the claimed invention. Wherever possible, nucleic acid and peptide sequences claimed in the independent claims of granted patents from USPTO or some from EPO, and some of the PCT applications, are linked to the NCBI patent sequence database.

Examples on the analysis of patent claims for validity issues were given for certain patent families.

What is this technology landscape NOT about?

This white paper is not intended to make the reader an expert in patents nor will it serve as a legal opinion for the reader’s particular issues.  It should not be substituted for legal advice.

To learn more about patents and patentability, please visit our companion tutorial, “How to read a patent” and web sites such as the web site of the United States Patent Office and the web site of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The user should note that we do not analyze patents directed to methods of using growth inhibitory substances such as certain amino acids for selection. Some of these patents may dominate the agricultural patents discussed on this site. As well, we present only a selected set of patents and applications. The set represents what we consider to be key in the field. It is inevitable that others would have a different opinion about what is key and, as a result, may well have chosen a different set of patents.

Furthermore, the nature of the patenting systems worldwide means that new patents and patent applications may appear at anytime.  Similarly, patents may lapse or patent applications may expire or be replaced by new applications.  So, although we have tried to give the best coverage of the intellectual property surrounding positive selection systems, this landscape should not be viewed as a comprehensive coverage of the subject.  We would encourage those interested readers to offer comments on this work – with the view to improving the structure and content for all.